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CALL No. 5-/2 


Tile Prifk Nook 







MA. (N2.)i Dip- Anthrop. (Cambridge), Ph.D. (Columbia) 



Professor of Anthropology in the University of London, 
Member of the Polish Academy of Science, 
Author of Argonauts of the Western Pacific, 

The Sexual life of Savages, etc. 

w r. 

r ^ 

S' 75 -4 3. 




First published ig32 
by George Routledge & Sons Ltd 
Broadway House, 68-^4 Carter Lane 
London, E.C.4 

Revised edition 1963 

Printed in Great Britain 
by Butler & Tanner Ltd 
Frame & London 

(c) R. F. Fortune 1963 

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without 
permissioti from the publisher, except for the quotation of brief 
passages in criticism 

Australasian National Research Council Expedition 
to New Guinea, 1927-8 





Preface xi 

Introduction by Professor Malinowski . . . xvii 


I. Social Organization 

Outline of Social Organization . . . i 

Marriage ....... 2i 

Totemism ....... 30 

Terminology of Relationship . . .36 

Functioning of the System .... 43 

Use of Personal Names .... 62 

Custom and Magic ..... 68 

The Case of Yogalu ..... 85 

The Legend of Saido Sere and some general 
considerations . . 87 

II. The Garden 

Sketch of the Concept of Ritual ... 94 

Social Organization in Gardening . . .102 

The Ritual of the Garden . . . .106 

III. The Black Art 

Disease Infliction . . . . '133 

Teacher and Pupil ..... 147 

Witchcraft and Sorcery . . . • ^ 5 ° 

Methods of Divination . . . .154 

The Diviner at Work . . . .156 

The Diviner refuses to work . . .158 

Considering the Diviner . . . .164 

The Sorcerer in Action .... 167 

An Evaluation of Claims . . . • 

General Attitudes . . . . ■ ^75 

IV. The Spirits of the Dead .... 178 

V. Economics 

Marital Exchanges . . . . .189 

Death and Mourning Exchanges . . -193 

The Essentials of the Overseas Exchanges . 200 

Overseas Expeditions .... 210 

The Ritual of the Kula .... 214 

viii Contents 


VI. Sex 

Native Theory of Sex ..... 235 

Native Theory of Procreation . . . 238 

Dominant Sex Attitudes .... 241 

VII. Dance and Song 250 

VIII. Legend 262 

IX. The Individual in the Social Pattern . 273 


I. Dobu and Basima 280 

II. Vada 284 

III. Administration and Sorcery . . . 288 

IV. Heat and the Black Art .... 295 

V. Further Notes on the Black Art . . 298 

VI. A Batch of Dance Songs .... 300 

VII. Conclusion 306 

Index ...... ... 307 

Between pages 142 and 143 


I. Evening Cooking. 

Bringing Yam Harvest home in Dobu Island, the coast 
of Duan (north Normanby Island) in the background 

II. Sister’s children of the dead carrying funerary gifts of 
food to them from the children of the dead. 

Funerary feast group, note widow with widow’s neck- 
tie and long skirt. 

III. Father and Children. 

Woman digging for small shell-fish for soup. 

IV. Fish-net drying. 

Fishing in shallows. 

V. In the early morning sun. 

Dobuan House. 

VI. New house building. 

Mourning over a corpse, the end of a house — the logs in 
front of it mark the close of its use. 

VII. Girl with her young brother as chaperone. 

Ceremonial Cooking. 

VIII. Old Sibor, Father of his village and resident in it. 

Coming from the garden. 


FIG. page 

I. Village Plan ....... i 

II. House Sites ....... 2 

HI. Diagram of Marital Grouping .... 8 

IV. Garden . . . . . . . .110 

V. Pottery making ...... 203 

Marks showing the signs of death . . . 280 

Map . xxxii 



T he Dobuan Islanders discussed in this book are islanders 
of the Eastern Division of Papua, as are the Goodenough, 
the Fergusson, the Woodlark, the Rossel, the Sud-est, the Am- 
phlett and the Trobriand Islanders. There is much that is un- 
known about their history, but they plant the yam and the taro 
which have not grown in the wild type in north-east Africa or 
south-west Asia since the late Miocene. No evidence of blood 
antigens which are possible Mongoloid or possible Negro markers 
have been found in blood surveys in their wider area. They 
speak languages which D. MacDonald in his work The Oceanic 
Languages treats as proto-Semitic in family. There is some ques- 
tion about his classification, but there may, perhaps, be something 
in an opinion that they may have sailed from south-west to south- 
east Asia to the Pacific Islands since the dates of the beginning of 
agriculture in south-west and in south-east Asia. 

The domains of the Trobriand Island chiefs and of their home 
groups of about thirty men and their wives and children are not 
wide in area. They are areas of about a thousand acres, nine- 
tenths of which lies fallow in secondary growth in every season 
and which are cultivated by slash and burn agriculture. Such 
areas are not distinctive in acreage or in the method of agricul- 
ture used in them or in the number of persons who live on them 
from the areas of other social groups in the D’Entrecasteaux Is- 
lands and in the Trobriand Islands. In their social customs the 
Trobriand Islanders differed from the Goodenough, the Fergus- 
son, the Amphlett, the Rossel and the Dobuan Islanders, but not 
from the islanders of the Marshall Bennett group, in recognizing 
distinctions of rank and in giving many of their daughters’ hands 
in marriage to chiefs. They differed from the Samoans, the 
Fijians, the Tongans, the Hawaiians, Marquesans and the Maori 
in the number of wives of chiefs. There is a suggestion in Malino- 
ski that the Trobrianders were more nearly related to the Solo- 
mon Islanders or the islanders of the New Hebrides than to other 
islanders of the Eastern Division of the Papua. It is unlikely, 
however, that such was the case. There are many Dobuan and 
Trobriand Islanders of the same clans. In neolithic society war 
refugees sometimes settled on land in the coimtry of the next 


xii Preface 

people, assiuning their language in a generation or two. Their 
culture of stone tools was of polished stone and they also took care 
if they were Dobuan to curtsey or bend forward to their senior 
relatives by marriage as Trobriand or Fijian Islanders did to 
chiefs and as T robriand women curtsied to their brothers. Malin- 
owski assumed that the Trobriand Island way of working by the 
communal organization of agricultural labour to clear, burn, 
break and plant the field of each member of the community in 
turn was not found in other islands in which slash and burn 
agriculture was practised. It was and is still, however, the general 
method which is used. War refugees who regrouped on land in 
the country of the next people probably assumed the customs and 
manners of their country of adoption without difficulty. 

In touching on the topic of neolithic society in the islands 
before 1883 when Papua was declared a British protectorate and 
united into a polity, Malinowski hazarded an opinion that the 
Trobriand Islanders were united into a polity with one chief of 
limited powers, but of considerable influence, at its head. As a 
matter of fact they were then disunited and Malinowski’s estimates 
of the number of the wives, the extent of the area of influence, and 
the amount of the wealth of the eighteenth and nineteenth pre- 
decessors of the chief of the Tabalu lineage of the Malasi clan who 
resided at Omarakana village in north Boyowa Island are not sup- 
ported by satisfactory evidence. 

Clearly there is some impression about the history of the is- 
landers. Malinowski was more impressed by the contrasts in the 
landscape and in the manners and languages of the islanders than 
he was by the continental derivation of their culture and its sec- 
ondary association with the island landscapes. There was some 
adaptation of the islanders to the island environment and there 
was some mythology told about features in the landscape. For 
example the volcanic ash soil of Dobu Island supported a density 
of population of 333 to the square mile in the year 1891 when the 
non-volcanic soil of north Boyowa Island supported less than half 
that density, 165 to the square mile. In south-west Normanby 
Island there is an extinct volcano called Mt. Bwebweso where 
there was once believed to be a home of the dead for those who 
were not killed in action, kept by Kekewage and by his consort. 
Woman Cleaner. On the other hand there is a mountain called 
Koyatabu, Holy Mountain, which rises from the coast of north- 
east Fergusson Island without a myth about it. 

In this edition improved translations of some Dobuan works 
have been made upon those which were published in the first 



edition. Otherwise the book has not been revised extensively. 
Malinowski’s introduction to the first edition is retained but is not 
all endorsed. Malinowski wrote that his purpose was to state 
laws of culture independent of period, place and circumstance, or 
natural universal laws of behaviour and to reduce the social 
sciences to terms of behaviourist psychology. Radcliffe-Brown, 
who supervised the work on which this book is based, wrote that 
the social sciences are natural sciences. It has been pointed out 
by many authors that the social sciences which stem from Aris- 
totle, ethics and politics, do not, like medicine, rest upon a know- 
ledge of the biological sciences, or upon any known natural laws. 
They are not any of the natural sciences. There is no doubt that, 
as far as Malinowski and Radcliffe-Brown predicted the discovery 
of natural universal laws of behaviour and of society, they were, 
of course, wrong. It is therefore a mistake to discuss mistaken 
detail in their work as if there were a correct solution within the 
terms of their presuppositions. Outside such terms there may be 
something to be said introductory to a discussion of late Oceanic 
neolithic society. A knowledge of the politics or of the ethics of a 
particular society is not necessary to general works on such sub- 
jects, such as those written by Aristotle, John Locke, David Hume, 
John Dewey and Bertrand Russell. 

With reference then to the introduction to this book and to the 
folk-lore and mythology of the neolithic period, the lore about 
diseases thought then to be caused by imaginary small doubles of 
different species of the animal kingdom controlled by medicine 
men was confounded by Malinowski with a question whether the 
islanders enjoyed their sea voyages to one anothers’ islands. The 
lore had nothing to do with the case, and it is probable that they 
enjoyed sea travel. Again the myth that there was a pool of mobile 
yam tubers and the agricultural magic to win yam tubers from it 
was possibly not considered with sufficient detachment from un- 
related matters by him. In the territory of Papua andNewGuinea 
there was a widespread belief that there was a pool of mobile 
steel tools and of other imported goods and a cult aimed to win 
goods from it. It became known as the cargo cult and the admini- 
stration aimed to discourage its adherents. To read the political 
unity and the discouragement of some myths secured by the 
Administration in colonial society back into the period of neo- 
lithic society, or to read the mythology and magic of the neolithic 
period about pools of mobile yam tubers as a belief in magical theft 
of crops may be to misinterpret the period. 

With reference to another myth as it is discussed in this book 



and in Malinowski’s introduction it may be noted that, when we 
went to south Boyowa Island with the Tewara Islanders in 1928, 
we asked the Trobriand Islanders to narrate their legend about 
human conception. The Trobriand Islanders narrated the legend 
with pleasure, but the Tewara Islanders did not like our request, 
and we expect that it was an infringement of a taboo. Certainly 
Malinowski records that, when he met the Tewara Islanders in 
south Boyowa Island and asked them to narrate the legend of 
Kawabwaibwaileta, an early sea voyager, to him, they declined to 
do so, saying that they kept a taboo against doing so. The taboo 
probably applied to voyages outward bound, and in ports of call ; 
for on the homeward bound voyage someone narrated the legend 
of Kasabwaibwaileta spontaneously. In the first edition, p. 239, 
we did not connect these incidents, and we suggested that the 
topic of human conception was banned between the Dobuan and 
the Trobriand Islanders as their view of its cause differed, and 
had been disputed between them in the past. It is also likely that 
all legends were taboo on voyages outward bound and in ports of 
call, and perhaps that breaches of this taboo were thought to be 
bad for business. At the early stage in the business in 1928 at 
which the Trobriand Islanders assisted one of their trading visitors 
to break a taboo, which they probably observed themselves, they 
were not yet prepared to disclose that they were willing to part 
with anything for any consideration whatsoever. In comment in 
his introduction Malinowski surmised incorrectly that we taunted 
the Trobriand Island narrators of a legend with unenlightenment 
for attributing human conception to reincarnation. He took it for 
granted that what the Tewara Islanders had disliked about the 
incident was the point of his assumption about what happened, as 
well as the point of our assumption that the ban was due to a 
difference in viewpoint between the Trobriand Islanders and the 
Dobuans. The text of p. 239 of the first edition is amended on the 
point in this edition, but Malinowski’s text in his introduction on 
the same point is not amended, except by this note about it. The 
story of the origin of taboos is not given, as it is unknown. One 
of the south Trobriand Islanders said that the m5^h that human 
conception was caused by reincarnation had diffused into the south 
Trobriands from nortljern Boyowa Island in the lifetime of his 

In this book there are some references to a neighbour in 
Basima who ran amok. His name was Wenoli. He was prob- 
ably an epileptic. His skin was covered with ringworm. He was 
worried that he was not married. Shortly after we went to live 



by him in north-east Fergusson Island he and Kinosi said that a 
woman who was not his wife was his wife who had left him, as she 
was afraid of advanced civilization. Wenoli produced the young 
woman and her parents and purported to translate what we said 
in defence of advanced civilization in Dobuan into the Basima 
language. These people are not hard-hearted towards the afflic- 
ted, and their daughters marry those whom their parents and 
kindred select as their husbands. Wenoli won a wife in that way, 
and ran amok three times in his first month of marriage. Years 
later we heard that his wife had a lover w'ho cut her throat and 
hanged himself. Kinosi’s marriage to Kadibweara was arranged 
before we first landed in Tewara Island. One of the crew of the 
schooner that landed us possibly seduced Kadibweara in the ab- 
sence of the Tewara men who were fishing for the palolo annelid 
on the reef that day. If so we were never told the story. Kinosi 
worked for us, married a woman of the Bwaioa Peninsular area of 
south-east Fergusson Island from which his father came in the 
sequence, and subsequently served with an Australian magistrate 
charged with watching for the Japanese armed forces in 1942. 
Except that nearly all first marriages were arranged ones, there was 
nothing that was socially systematic in these human particulars, 
some of which were attributed to system in the first edition. 
There were families, lineages and clans and some modes of 
relationship behaviour, but owing to the variability in the human 
factor some other human particulars which were tentatively attri- 
buted to a social system as their explanation were not explained 
in those terms. 


Department of Archaeology and Anthropology, 

University of Cambridge 
1st November, 1962 


I OWE my best thanks, not only to all my teachers named in 
the preface, but also to my kind hosts and helpers in Papua. 
In a place so hospitable it is somewhat invidious to single out 
special names. Nevertheless, I am most deeply indebted to : — 
His Excellency Sir Hubert Murray for his official 

The Rev. M. Gilmour and his associates in the Dobuan 
Mission for hospitality, and for their so kindly bringing up my 
stores and mails from Samarai with those of the Mission. 

Mr. E. W. Harrison, of Sebulugoma, for his friendship, 
hospitality, and for his knowledge of the Dobuan native, as 
well as for his capacity for forgetting the native — a necessary 
form of detachment for continuous healthy living there. 

The Rev. J. K. Arnold, of Bwaidogu, for his hospitality 
and for his good formal work, which he made accessible to me, 
on the Dobuan language. 

For final criticism of this book I am deeply indebted to my 
wife. Dr. Margaret Mead. 


By Bronislaw Malinowski 

D ay after day, looking over the glossy, dead waters of the 
lagoon, I used to gaze longingly southwards towards the 
islands of Dobu and of the Amphletts — imprisoned as I was in 
one or other of the coastal villages of the Trobriands between 
a mangrove swamp, the steep inhospitable coral ridge, and the 
muddy waters of the beach. My only pastime and exercise 
consisted in long rowing and punting excursions, when on calm 
days of the monsoon season I could see the clear southern 
horizon gradually unfolding with the distant outlines of 
Koyatabu and the other high peaks of the d’Entrecasteaux group. 

There is no greater contrast anywhere round eastern New 
Guinea than that between the landscape and culture of the 
Trobriand Archipelago on the one hand, and of the 
d’Entrecasteaux group on the other. In the south, high 
mountains, volcanic cones, bronzed rocks framed in dense 
dark jungle, overlook bays and inlets of intensely blue clear 
water ; where, near the shore, the coral bottom with its variety 
of colour and form, with its wonderful plant and fish life, presents 
an ever fascinating spectacle. In the north, a wide shallow 
lagoon, studded with flat coral islands, with reefs and sand- 
banks, spreads its opaque greenish waters, their natural 
monotony broken only here and there by the signs of native 
life : the fishing-canoes sailing along the passage ; men and 
women wading for shell-fish ; smoke curling up above the 
palm-groves of the coastal settlements. 

This contrast between the two landscapes is intensified 
for the ethnographer by the entirely different character of the 
natives. In the prosaic open landscape of the Trobriands, on 
its fertile soil and around the rich waters of its lagoon, there lives 
a dense population, dwelling in large settlements, often not more 
than a stone’s throw from each other ; well organized into 
political districts, with chiefs, sub-chiefs, and headmen ; united 
into a polity with one Paramount Chief as its head, whose power 
perhaps does not reach over the whole district, but whose 
prestige extends far beyond it. The Trobrianders represent 
the enlightened, light-hearted, easy-going civilized tribes of 
North-West Melanesia. Not so their neighbours, the inhabitants 
B xvii 

xviii Introduction 

of the fascinating yet gloomy, beautiful yet treacherous, 
“ mountain,” .the koya, as the Trobrianders call the southern 

The Dobuans as well as their landscape are an object of 
superstitious awe and attraction. The koya has always been and 
still is an El Dorado, a land of promise and hope, to generation 
after generation of sailors and adventurers from the Northern 
islands. For the two districts are united by an interesting inter- 
tribal trade, the kula. In the past as now the Trobrianders sailed 
year after year to the southern district on kula expeditions. 
They regarded the Dobuans as their envied superiors in some 
ways, as despised barbarians in others — the Dobuans who ate 
man and dog, but could produce more deadly witchcraft than 
anyone else ; who were mean and jealous, but could fight and 
raid till they held in terror the whole koya. The Southerners 
were to the Trobrianders their partners and competitors, their 
foes and also their hosts — this latter in more than one sense, 
for at times a whole crew of Trobriand sailors were caught and 
eaten by their southern neighbours. 

Living among the Trobrianders, sailing from one of their 
islands to another, around their archipelago and over their seas, 
I became susceptible to their legendary outlook on this landscape, 
on “ the sea-arm of Pilolu ”, that is, the waters which stretch 
from the mountains of the south to the coral atolls of the north. 
It was perhaps no wonder that all my romantic interest was 
attached to the southern koya, the land fraught with dread 
beauty and mythological associations. 

When I heard therefore some time ago that this country was 
going to be explored anthropologically by a young but very 
competent worker, my interests became riveted on Dr. Fortune’s 
field-work. It was a venture of no mean importance to the value 
of my own material. That land, veiled for me just as it was for 
my Trobriand friends, was at last to be explored. The home of 
cannibalism, head-hunting, of daring expeditions ; the country 
about which there circulated fabulous tales, partly native, 
partly European ; the country of the alleged high god, 
Yabwayna, the god of wars ; the country where Trobrianders 
believed sorcery had been bom ; the country where, as I was 
assured by my native friends and also by some European 
residents, there existed mysterious forms of mother-right ; 
where as some said there were to be found crude sexual 
orgies ; while others affirmed that women lived in perfect 
chastity — ^this country was to be unveiled at last. 



Dr. Fortune’s book disperses some of the chimerical 
anticipations and discloses wonders far more interesting than 
those of the fairy tales which reached me. On one or two points 
Dr. Fortune has been able to correct some of the statements 
which I cautiously ventured to make about Dobu. On other 
points — I am glad to say, on most points — his information 
dovetails with that collected by myself, and supplies the most 
interesting and valuable framework to my picture of the 
Trobriand society, or rather develops this picture on the side 
on which it most needed development. 

The results of Dr. Fortune’s investigations laid down in the 
present volume have surpassed my most sanguine expectations. 
The book, though crammed with facts, is yet quick with the 
reality of native life. It is dramatic in its method of exposition, 
and instructive as one of the most penetrating sociological 
analyses in anthropological literature. I know, in fact, of no 
better account of field-work, nor one more informative. It is 
intensely interesting not only for myself and for those whose 
heart is in Melanesia, but it is also one of the most valuable 
introductions for the layman who wishes to become acquainted 
with what a really savage tribe really is. 

Incidentally it is a triumph for anthropology, for here we 
have a study carried out over a relatively short time, six months, 
in which the specialist, unaided by any white resident, 
untrammelled by hearsay information received from Missionary 
and Government Official — information which so often confuses 
the field-worker more than it helps — was able to penetrate right 
into the heart of native society and of native culture, master 
their language, gain their confidence, and in many ways assimilate 
himself to the life. Comparing Dr. Fortune’s book with my 
first account of field-work, which extended over the same 
length of time — I mean my monograph on the natives of 
Mailu— I cannot but feel envious, though this does not 
prevent me from expressing my satisfaction at the victory of 
my friend ! 

The only consolation which I can derive is that Dr. Fortune 
has adopted most of the methods to which I was driven in my 
own field-work, and which I so unresejA^edly recommended in 
my Argonauts (1922). It is with great satisfaction therefore 
that I noted in Dr. Fortune’s book his complete reliance on 
himself, his ruthless avoidance of the Missionary’s compound 
or of the Government station ; his determination to live right 
among the natives, and to get hold of the language as quickly 



as possible ; and, again, the even weighting of objective 
documentation, of linguistic analysis of texts and statements, 
and direct observation of native life. In this latter Dr. Fortune 
has the ethnographer’s supreme gift i he can integrate the 
infinitely small imponderable facts of daily life into convincing 
sociological generalizations. 

The present book may be regarded by the Functional 
Method as one of its triumphs in the field. Dr. Fortune’s 
account presents the two qualities which good functional 
field-work claims as its own. On the one hand it is a precise 
sociological analysis of the tribal organization of the Dobuans. 
On the other hand, far from giving us merely the scaffolding of 
social structure, the book brings us right in touch with the living 
individual, it gives us the feeling of communal life, it allows us 
to re-live the fears, the passions, the’ deep traditional beliefs and 
superstitions of the natives. 

The most spectacular chapter of the book, and the one which 
will attract not only the anthropologist but a wider public, 
is the account of sorcery, and Dr. Fortune has shown a shrewd 
appreciation of his book’s appeal in choosing its telling title. 
The district of Dobu is, as it w’ere, shrouded in a cloud of 
superstitious fear for all its neighbours. The very name of 
Sewatupa, the mythological centre of all sorcery, witchcraft, 
and evil things that befall man, strikes terror into the heart of 
Trobriander and Amphlett islander alike. Dr. Fortune was as 
impressed as I was by the difference in this respect between the 
Trobriand Islands and the koya, the mountainous southern 
archipelago. The Trobrianders, frightened enough by sorcery 
and witchcraft at home, become yet more panic-stricken as they 
sail south. The Dobuans, on the contrary, seem to breathe 
more freely in the healthy atmosphere of the Trobriands — 
healthy because deprived of really dangerous, pernicious, or 
aggressive magic. 

The structure of belief in sorcery seems to be very different 
in either district. I have not yet published the full account of 
sorcery in the Trobriands, and am only now engaged in working 
it out. There seems to be the typical difference which runs 
through the two cultures : the Trobriand system is more 
elaborate, more methodical, containing more well-thought-out 
details and logical schemes. The main agent of the black art 
in the Trobriands is the male sorcerer, the ^aga’u. He proceeds 
by inflicting, at gradual intervals, increasingly strong doses of 
evil magic. While there are no professional diviners, a rival 



practitioner is invariably used to combat the sorcerer’s attempts ; 
for every spejl of black magic there is a counter-spell, and the 
contest of the two forces, evil and good, black and white, takes 
place almost openly. 

The mechanism of magic in either district is also different. 
Evil magic is never carried on in the Trobriands by the Dobuan 
method of “ personal leavings ”, to use Dr. Fortune’s term. 
The main method by which Northern sorcery is inflicted is 
by the smoke of medicated leaves burnt surreptitiously at a 
man’s hearth. Hence in the whole area of Northern Massim 
nobody ever sleeps in houses raised above the ground. Even 
the Christian missionary teacher, who builds his imitation 
bungalow on piles, fills out the space beneath with a heap of 
coral stones. If it were left open the sorcerer might creep 
under the house at night and bum there the appropriate herbs 
impregnated with the evil spell, silami, so that the smoke would 
enter the interior of the dwelling and kill the occupants. The 
Trobrianders have also a culminating act of black magic, the 
boiling of a sharp bone in a magical cauldron, and the 
subsequent pointing of the bone at the victim. 

In Dobu Dr. Fortune was told that the Trobrianders know 
no female witchcraft. This is a Dobuan legend. The 
Trobrianders themselves are very much afraid of the flying 
witches, whose methods are entirely akin to the Dobuan 
werebana. A comparative parallel of the whole attitude towards 
sorcery, witchcraft, and the terrors of night, as these affect 
the Trobriander and the Dobuan, would be very interesting. 
I never had a greater surprise in my field-work than on the first 
night which I spent in the island of Murua (Woodlark Island), 
inhabited by a tribe of the Northern Massim akin to the 
Trobrianders. Having come direct from Mailu, on the south 
coast, where the natives are very much like the Dobuans, 
paralysed with fear at night, never prepared to go out alone, 
I was dumbfounded to see that a small boy sent out at night 
quite happily went off alone on a distant errand. The same 
fearlessness I noticed again on my second expedition, when I 
went to the Trobriands. Men and women, boys and girls, 
walk alone at night from one village to another, venturing without 
fear into any distant place, however eerie it might appear even 
to an ethnographer. This would be quite impossible anywhere 
on the southern coast, and the Dobuans always stmck me as 
being the most timorous of all the Melanesians I met. Even 
in the Trobriands my Dobuan servant boys would never be 

xxii Introduction 

as bold as their native colleagues, although every Dobuan would 
tell me that there he felt absolutely secure. 

Among the interesting details of the book I should like to 
point out the account about Vada sorcery, discussed by 
Dr. Fortune in his Appendix II. Remarkably enough, while 
working in the Amphletts, I found some extraordinary parallels 
to what I had discovered on the south coast, in the Sinaugolo 
district, as well as in Mailu, and I was also struck by the essential 
similarity between the beliefs of the Western Papuo-Melanesians 
from Port Moresby up to the Amphletts and by the profound 
difference between all these beliefs and those of the Trobrianders. 

A small misconception of Dr. Fortune’s I should like to 
correct : I did not obtain my account of the Vada in pidgin 
English, as I never worked through this misleading and 
unpleasant medium, all my work in Mailu and on the south coast 
being carried on in the native lingua franca of that region, 
in Motu, as I have said in my monograph on the Mailu 
(pp. 500 and 501). 

But though sorcery is in a way the most sensational part of 
Dr. Fortune’s book, it is not, in my opinion, the most valuable. 
His chapter on gardening is among the best accounts published 
of an economic pursuit and of the attached magical control. 
Those of us who know the Melanesians of New Guinea at 
first hand are well aware that their strongest passion is for their 
gardens. In his account Dr. Fortune has brought out this 
attitude clearly ; he has also shown the way in which magic 
interpenetrates practical activities, how it is an organizing and 
integrating force. 

Here again in drawing a comparison between Dobu and the 
Trobriands, we shall find the difference as usual : Trobriand 
gardening is a bigger enterprise always organized on a com- 
munal scale ; with a garden magician as a public official, in a 
sense, representing the community. I am speaking in the future 
tense of the possible comparison, because though I have 
published here and there brief accounts of Trobriand gardening, 
the full material is only now being written up, and will 
appear, I hope, at not too distant a date. Some of the spells 
adduced by Dr. Fortune are almost identical with those which 
I obtained in the Trobriands. 

The belief in magical thieving of crops is specifically Dobuan. 
I have found nothing like it in the Trobriands, where stealing 
of crops is attributed not to human beings but to wood spirits, 
tokway, who also play other pranks on human beings. This 

Introduction xxiii 

difference is no doubt connected with the fact that the 
Trobrianders are much richer in food, that they despise stealing 
profoundly, and that even magical thieving would be scorned 
by them — if I may reproduce from my own adopted Trobriand 
mentality the attitude which they would show to the Dobuan 

I was naturally most keenly interested in Dr. Fortune’s 
chapters on the kula, on Dobuan sexual and matrimonial 
institutions, as well as their kinship system, since these aspects 
of Trobriand ethnography I have already fully described. I 
was specially gratified to see that his account of the southern 
chain of the kula ring fits in extremely well with the data which 
I obtained on the northern portion. Minor details of Dobuan 
custom and belief which I gave from the Trobriand point of 
view look different when correctly interpreted from the 
Dobuan perspective. This is only natural, since accurate 
knowledge of their neighbours is never characteristic of a 
Melanesian native community, probably of no native com- 
munity anywhere. 

Incidentally, Dr. Fortune has throughout the book done a 
most valuable piece of work in relating Dobuan custom and 
institutions to those of my Trobrianders. I only wish he had 
done the same in relation to the South Massim, so admirably 
described by Professor Seligman in his standard work. The 
Melanesians of British New Guinea. This book was a constant 
inspiration to me in the field, and I was able to check its accuracy, 
width, and penetration in my own field of work in the 
Trobriands. Though this field of the North Massim is avowedly 
one which Professor Seligman has merely surveyed, I have 
found his survey perfectly correct. Professor Seligman’s 
material on the South Massim would have been found by 
Dr. Fortune of the greatest use in every respect, but above all 
in matters of folk-lore, sexual customs, social organization, 
and totemism. The point on which he gives credit to 
Professor Seligman in the text is in the discovery of kula. 
Kula, however, is about the only institution in this region 
which did escape Seligman’s notice. He would be in fact 
the last to claim the discovery. Mine was, I think, the first 
description of this system of trading, and the word kula was 
used in t3rpe for the first time by myself. I cannot, however, 
claim the discovery of this institution, for I was told about it 
in private conversation by the Rev. M. Gilmour, the 
distinguished head of the Methodist Mission in New Guinea, 



and by Dr. Bellamy, the Resident Magistrate of the District, 
then on his last few days’ residence in the Trobriands. 

In the very interesting account of sexual custom and ideas 
Dr. Fortune corrects an important point on which I was mis- 
taken. The Dobuans had been represented to me by the 
Trobrianders as well as through their own accounts as very 
much chaster than they really are. As mentioned, I had a 
few Dobuan boys in my employment, and used to chat with them 
about the customs of the Trobrianders among whom we lived, 
and I always tried to lead them on to make anthropological 
comparisons. This fairy tale is, however, easily explained by the 
extraordinary jealousy of the Dobuans, which is one of the 
Leitmotivs of Dr. Fortune’s account. The Dobuan boys would 
not even want to speak about the laxity of their women-folk ; 
while the Trobrianders, never obtaining any favours from 
Dobuan women, accused them of that unpleasant characteristic, 
chastity, in a wholesale manner. 

Dr. Fortune draws a very interesting parallel between the 
Dobuan recognition of physiological paternity and the Trobriand 
disregard of it. I never found while in the Trobriands the 
interesting fact which Dr. Fortune tells us, that the subject is 
never brought up between Trobrianders and Dobuans, as it 
has been the cause of anger and quarrel too often in the past 
His experiment of taunting the Trobrianders once more ; the 
fury of the Dobuans against him for doing it, is another signal 
proof of the tenacity of the Trobrianders’ ignorance of paternity. 
Whether this ignorance is essentially a lack of knowledge, or 
ignorance in the more active sense of culturally determined 
non-recognition, must remain for the present unanswered. But 
Dr. Fortune’s endorsement of my discovery is of value to me 
because, though personally I have not the slightest doubt that 
my conclusions concerning this ignorance are correct, I find 
that this is one of the points in ray field-work which seems to 
evoke a certain astonishment, if not incredulity, among many 

With all this, the most valuable part of Dr. Fortune’s book 
will remain unquestionably his opening part on sociology. The 
precise, convincing, and well-documented manner in which he 
has described the functioning of the susu, the matrilineal group, 
consisting of brother and sister and her children on the one 
hand, and, on the other, the family, consisting of husband 
and wife and their children, provides us with an entirely new 
picture of a hitherto unknown sociological constellation. Some 



data concerning kinship terminology, above all, the custom of 
changing nomenclature on the death of a man, will supply the 
clue to a great many of the most discussed kinship puzzles. 

The far-fetched theory propounded by Rivers, and accepted 
by many of Morgan’s latter-day followers, that this terminology 
is brought about by anomalous marriages, has always seemed 
to me untenable. Dr. Fortune’s discovery confirms my functional 
interpretation of cross-cousin marriage, and the terminology" 
by which the paternal nephew is called by the same name as 
the father.^ The Dobuan type of terminology for cross-cousins 
also obtains in the Trobriands. There, however, a man or a 
woman calls his or her father’s sister’s son by the term “ father ” 
from birth. This terminology expresses in the Trobriands 
merely the fact that the father’s nephew is a substitute father or 
secondary father, or that he is the man who will, and to a certain 
extent already does, stand in loco parentis. The fact that in Dobu 
the verbal identification of the patrilineal cross-cousin with the 
father takes place only after the latter’s death I regard as a crucial 
confirmation of my view. The same phenomenon of the change 
of terminology at death has recently been discovered in one or 
two places in Africa, notably among the Akan speaking people 
of the Gold Coast. 

The enumeration of Dr. Fortune’s discoveries in Dobu, 
each of them of the greatest importance for anthropological 
knowledge, could be indefinitely prolonged. The dual residence 
of a family, patrilocal and matrilocal, a year or so in the wife’s 
village, and then another year in the husband’s, is a rare and 
most interesting feature of social organization. It gives to the 
Dobuan family a unique constitution, and will throw new light 
on all our theories concerning kinship and descent. The 
distinction between villagers or citizens and “ those-resulting- 
from-marriage or, as we call them in the Trobriands, 
“ strangers ”, tomakawa, is less startling, but also very important 
for the comparative sociology of primitive cultures. The 
prevalence of incestuous or semi-incestuous unions and even 
marriages found in Dobu parallels my observations in the 
Trobriands. There is also the same type of courtship by trial 
and error and gradually tightening unions. Dr. Fortune’s 
analysis of love and romantic attitudes as well as the extent and 
importance of love magic, of which he incidentally gives some 
excellent spells, again show that Dobu does not differ from the 
Northern Massim in this respect. 

^ See chapter iv, section 4, of The Sexual Life of Savages. 



The wealth of mythological data and the placing of myth 
within the context of culture which allows us to appreciate the 
function of myth, is one of the most valuable contributions of 
this book. Incidentally the data provided by Dr. Fortune bear 
out completely my preliminary evaluation of the function of 
myth among the Northern Massim, which I outlined in Myth 
in Primitive Psychology (1926). 

A special merit of Dr. Fortune’s monograph is the 
illustration by concrete examples, the “ case method ” 
in anthropological description, ^ as it might be called. This 
method has been already handled brilliantly by Dr. Margaret 
Mead, and I myself have always felt that in the presentation 
of my own data concrete illustrations are indispensable, that 
they and they only give life to general ethnographic descrip- 

All in all. The Sorcerers of Dobu is a pioneering piece of 
functional work, new in its way of approach, in its style of 
presentation, and in the construction of its sociological frame- 
work. Some of its outstanding qualities are beyond cavil and 
criticism. No anthropologist, however hostile to the functional 
method, can but acknowledge their v^ue and importance. 
The tendency towards organic presentation, the broad full 
sweep over the totality of native culture, the placing of details 
within their proper context — all these qualities no one will 

But there are other points which will provoke criticisms, 
and in my humble capacity of godfather and standard-bearer 
of the functional method, I might be allowed to anticipate some 
of these. Many a fact-worshipping, theory-dreading, curio- 
hunting anthropologist will affirm that Dr. Fortune is con- 
stantly mixing abstract descriptions of a theoretical nature with 
the statement of solid fact ; that in his digressions on the 
nature of magic, on Melanesian communism, on the. susu 
and the family, he is constantly making a case for this or that 
point of view. Dr. Fortune has almost run the risk of being 
convicted of following the bad example of Crime and Custom, 
Sex and Repression, and Myth in Primitive Psychology ! In 
defending him I am therefore putting in a plea pro dmo mea, 
and I am doing it with a full moral conviction of being in the 
right in company with Dr. Fortune. 

The first point concerns the definition of fact. As long as the 
anthropologist was supposed to do no more than report what 
was striking or sensational in a native community, he could 

Introduction xxvii 

move about just collecting observations of queer occurrences. 
Now that the functional method commands him to give a full 
picture of primitive culture, he has to analyse the forces of social 
cohesion, the sanctions of law, custom, and morality, the 
principles of primitive economic systems, and the structure of 
native ideas and beliefs. Nowadays, the anthropologist can no 
longer spread his nets far and wide to allow the queer fish of 
strange custom to float in, at his and their leisure. He has to 
investigate the relations between custom, institution, and type 
of behaviour. For we are now more and more interested in 
the connections between the component parts of an institution 
in the relations of institution to institution and of aspect to 
aspect. We are interested, that is, rather in meaning and function 
than in form and detail. Only an inductive generalization or a 
functional relation is to the modern anthropologist a real 
scientific fact. 

The functional anthropologist has constantly to make 
inductive generalizations from what he sees, he has to construct 
theories, and draw up the charters of native institutions. In 
short, he has constantly to theorize in the field, theorize on 
what he sees, hears, and experiences. 

Let him try to note down a native utterance. He will have 
to decide whether this is a fixed text, or whether it is a magical 
spell, or a prayer, or a song. He will have further to place and 
define the nature of the spell or song or prayer by its relation to 
ritual, to native beliefs, and to the whole organization of the 
magical or religious cult. Or let him again try to draw up the 
main outlines of a ceremony : he will have to eliminate the 
irrelevant details, and only retain what is essential. An act as 
trivial as the spitting of an old man may be completely irrelevant, 
due to the fact that the old man suffers from a cold or has 
swallowed a fly ; or else it may be an essential expression of 
belief and a most potent act of magic. Even in such obvious 
matters therefore as the collection of texts or the observation of 
ritual acts, the constructive mind must be ever at work. When 
it comes to the definition of a belief, to the establishment of a 
legal or customary rule, matters become even more difficult. 

Thus Dr. Fortune is perfectly justified — he is doing nothing 
more nor less than his ethnographic duty — in analysing the 
function of Dobuan myth, in discussing the incidence of the 
sympathetic principle, as well as of the belief in supernatural 
agencies, in Dobuan m^c. His description of the family and 
susu would be worthless had he not brought these two groups 

xxviii Introduction 

into relation with each other, because it is in their relation that 
the sociological reality of Dobuan kinship actually resides. 

Dr. Fortune’s book is therefore above any criticism from this 
point of view, for anthropological work of the functional school 
will have resolutely to go into this type of combined constructive 
and descriptive analysis of observations. 

But though it is inevitable, this handling of theory and fact 
has to be done extremely carefully. For, however cautious 
an observer might be, he is always liable to confuse conjecture 
with induction. Thus, in building up his theoretical con- 
structions, in drawing his inferences from detail to general rule, 
the anthropologist has to carry out all his operations in the 
open — within sight and control of his readers. 

Dr. Fortune has, in my opinion, fully satisfied this requirement 
of method. The best proof of this is that the reader is enabled 
to disagree with the author’s conclusions, and to disagree on 
the basis of the detailed information presented by the author 
himself. Thus, to digress on one of my own lapses, I arranged 
my evidence about Trobriand gifts in a distinctly theoretical 
and constructive manner {Argonauts, chapter vi, section vi, 
p. 179). On the basis of my own facts, however, my friend, 
M. Mauss, was able to show that my construction was 
theoretically inadequate.^ I am glad to say that later on I was able 
to accept his criticispi unreservedly {Crime and Custom, ch. viii). 

Now in the present volume the concrete data are so 
clearly presented, that point after point I was able to scrutinize, 
and now agree and then again disagree wdth Dr. Fortune’s 
conclusions. Thus, for instance, in his analysis of the relative 
social importance of the family and the stisu, his synthesis 
embodied in the diagram on p. 19 is meant to show that the 
family is less important than the matrilineal group. But 
analysing his concrete data on pages ii to 19, we can see that he 
has omitted two or three elements which obviously strengthen 
the family ; while he has registered as “ gains ” of the susu 
influences which obviously do not strengthen in any way the 
matrilineal group as against that of husband and wife. 

Among the “ gains ” of the family I myself would 
emphatically list common work in the gardens ; permanent 
common residence, whether in the wife’s or in the husband’s 
village ; the strong emotional attitude of the father, documented 
by Dr. Fortune on pages 13 and 15 ; the solidarity between a 
man and his father s nephew ; the jealousies, which as we are 
Essai sur le Don, inZ. Socjo/ojfj^tw.New Series, vol.i,pp. 171 sqq. 

Introduction xxix 

informed on page 9, rend the very core of susu, the group of 
blood brothers ; and finally the cases of incest between 
matrilineally related people. Thus, to the three points listed by 
Dr. Fortune, we must add at least six more, making the balance 
between the two groupings pretty even. We might also perhaps 
add the mortuary custom by w'hich a widow or widower has to 
mourn a full year for the dead spouse, a custom which expresses 
the strength and importance of the matrimonial bond. In- 
cidentally, I should like very definitely to contest the quite un- 
necessary introduction of a new term, viz. “ marital groupings ”, 
for the time-honoured and generally accepted term “ family ” — 
a term which perfectly well describes the members of the 
Dobuan household. Terminological neophily— to coin a new 
term for this love of new terms ! — is a habit to which I have 
always been hostile. 

The extremely interesting duality of paternal love and 
avuncular duty which makes a man tend to transmit as much 
as he can, but above all his magic, to his son, has been recently 
signalled in several more or less matrilineal communities. I 
found it in the Trobriands ; Mrs. Aitken (Miss Barbara Freire- 
Marreco) has reported it from the Tewa, a section of the Pueblo 
Indians of Arizona ; and Dr. Audrey Richards, who has recently 
returned from fifteen months’ anthropological work among the 
Bemba tribe in Northern Rhodesia, tells me that the same 
strong tendency of surreptitious patrilineal transmission of 
property and influence obtains there also. 

Without going into details, I should say that I could fully 
substantiate from his own material my disagreement with 
Dr. Fortune’s conclusions about the importance of super- 
natural agencies in magic ; with his parallel between the Dobuan 
spells and religious prayers ; and with his interpretation of the 
present-day reality of mythological beings. Dr. Fortune presents 
his facts with such lucidity, precision, and detachment from his 
generalizations that a complete theoretical reinterpretation of 
his material is perfectly possible. 

On the other hand, I am fully convinced by Dr. Fortune’s 
theoretical interpretation of the function of kula. I am extremely 
glad that he has once more exploded the myth of Melanesian 
communism, put forward by no less an authority than Rivers, 
and that he once more shows the extremely small importance of 
that absurdly over-rated institution, the totemic clan. 

Some of the more prosaic colleagues of Dr. Fortune and 
myself may grumble at the slight literary over-weighting of 



his material. Dr. Fortune sometimes might be accused of 
sacrificing clarity and sober presentation of fact to dramatic 
and narrative effects. The balance between dramatic presentation 
on the one hand, and scientific detachment, precision, and 
accuracy on the other, is a very fine one, and not everyone may 
be satisfied with the way in which Dr. Fortune has tipped it. 
However this may be, it must always be remembered that Dobuan 
culture is not as clear cut as that of the Trobriand Islands, and 
that there is a touch of the mysterious, one might almost feel 
tempted to say, of the really savage, in these people, their ideas, 
and their behaviour. 

Dr. Fortune has done his first term of field-work in one 
of the most beautiful landscapes of New Guinea, he has done it 
among a people more difficult to explore, more elusive and 
attractive than any Melanesians I ever came across. He has done 
it in a region the knowledge of which supplies to us the key of 
many riddles of Pacific culture. He has given us a book of 
permanent value. 

B. Malinowski. 

Department of Anthropology, 

University of London, 

London School of Economics, W.C.2. 

12th September, 1931. 



Loughlon 1“ 
^Noda I* ) 

Chapter I 


Outline of Social Organization 

The ideal village of Dobu is a circle of huts facing inward 
to a central, often elevated mound, which is the village graveyard. 

In point of fact there are usually gaps in the circle of huts 
as at a, b, c, and d. These gaps represent old house sites of 
extinct family lines. A path, f, goes around the village behind 
the backs of the houses. This is for the use of passers by, who 
are not allowed to enter the village unless they are closely 
related to its members, or unless they have legitimate business 
of moment to transact. 

In the centre of the village a clear space lies open with only 
scattered brilliant leaved croton shrubs upon it. Here below 
the sod within their stone set circular enclosure lie the mothers, 
and mothers’ brothers, the grandmothers on the distaff side 
and their brothers, and so, for many a generation back, the 
ancestors of the villagers on the distaff side. From the dead who 
lie in the central space individual ownership vested in soil and 
palm has come to the living. On the paternal side the ancestors 

2 Social Organization 

of the village owners lie utterly dispersed in the villages of 
many stranger clans, the villages of their respective mothers and 
female ancestors. 

In the following discussion I use the term villager in the 
restricted meaning of owner of village land and village trees. 
This use excludes those who have married into the village and 
who claim residence only through their spouses. 

Each villager, male or female, owns a house site and a 
house. A woman inherits her house site from her mother, or 
from her mother’s sister. The husband in every marriage must 
come from another village than that of his wife. His house 
site is in one village, his wife’s house site is in another. A man’s 
son cannot inherit the house site of his father in his father’s 
village. After his father’s death he must scrupulously avoid 
so much as entering his father’s village. His father bequeaths 
his house site to his own sister’s son. His own son inherits 
house site and village status from his mother’s brother in his 
mother’s village. 

For the purpose of diagrammatic representation we may 
represent the village as one of its constituent units only. 

We may represent the Dobuan situation graphically as 
below : — 

O = female 

> Where Q 

O A 


represents a female. 

represents a male. 

represents female married to male. 


A O represents brother-sister relationship. 


represents a descending generation the children of a 

Outline of Social Organization 3 

The oval enclosing lines mark off villages A, B, and C. 
For brother and sister own house sites in the same village, and 
children inherit house sites in their mother’s village, not 
possibly in their father’s. Hence a man, his sister and his sister’s 
children are the owners or potential owners of all village house 
site land. 

Where a man’s house land is inherited there is he buried 
in the central place adjoining the outer ring of house land. 
Thus no father is ever buried in the place of his children. A, 
B, and C represent a legal unit which keeps village land and the 
disposal of the corpses of its members strictly within itself. 

The unit I have ringed about, of a man, his sister, and his 
sister’s children, is called in Dobuan the sum. It extends down 
the generations so that it may include a man, his sister, his 
sister’s children, and his sister’s daughter’s children, but not 
his sister’s son’s children, and so on. The children of any male 
member of the susu go out of it. In the above diagram I have 
represented each sum as a separate village in order to represent 
marriage out of the village. In reality, each village is a small 
number of susu, from four or five to ten or twelve, all claiming 
a common female ancestress and unbroken descent from her 
through females only. In practice only some of the number of 
sum can demonstrate this claim of common ancestry in their 
short known genealogies. But the claim is probably well founded, 
although not fully substantiated except by mythological 
validation in a mythical common ancestress. 

All virtue in this system comes from descent through the 
mother. Every woman claims by right the inheritance of her 
brother for her male children. Hence this grouping is called 
susu, the term for mother’s milk. A husband beating his wife 
falls out with her mother’s brother, or with her brother whose 
inheritance she claims for her children. Her children are 
independent of her husband for legal endowment — they must 
by law be independent, and differently endowed. She is greatly 
independent of her husband, and only bound if he cares to 
indulge, as often happens, in suicidal self pity, and does not 
succeed in killing himself. Nevertheless, the suicidal resort is 
taken in a minority of cases ; divorce is possible in the majority. 
It has become popular now for offended men to embark for 
work in the white man’s centres, rather than to attempt suicide, 
the more so since the old point of suicide, forcing one’s kin 
to avenge one on one’s cruel wife’s kindred, is difficult now owing 
to the white man’s laws against murder being fairly well enforced 

4 Social Organization 

Nevertheless, despite the new fashion, the old way still persists 
side by side with the new. 

If we come upon the village in its everyday aspect, when all 
is quiet, all its marriages going smoothly, it gives little apparent 
evidence of the strength of the susu. The susu does not live in 
a house. A man lives with his wife and children, and the 
interior of their house is strictly forbidden to anyone else, 
except at night to a lover of the daughter of the house. The 
man’s sister or the woman’s brother, or any other visitor, 
cannot ascend into the house but must rest under its elevated 
floor on the sheltered ground beneath, or, in the case of two 
men who are friends meeting, they may sit together on the 
elevated platform in front of the house, a small roof-sheltered 
“ verandah 

The susu has no common house for its exclusive use. Its 
only exclusive communal resting place is the graveyard, the 
centre ring with its red croton plants upon it ; each hut of 
the many that surround the communal place of the susu shelters 
a biological family, the marital grouping as I shall term it 
throughout this account. 

Normally the house interior is as rigidly restricted to man, 
wife, and their children, as the graveyard that the house fronts 
is rigidly restricted to the corpses of brothers, sisters, and 
sisters’ children, it being understood that the house is restricted 
to the one unit, the biological family only, whereas the grave- 
yard is common to all the susu of the village. But in case of 
serious illness the patient is always removed on a litter to his 
or her own village, village of the mother, if residence at the time 
of sickness is otherwhere. Then, and then only, entrance to 
the house is possible to the matrilineal kin of the patient despite 
the presence of the patient’s spouse in the house. If serious 
illness turns to death the dead’s spouse is immediately prohibited 
from the house and the village of death. Within the house the 
near matrihneal kin mourn their dead. The alignment of kin 
wdthin the house is, for the first and only time, the same as the 
alignment of kin within the graveyard. The house has ceased 
to be a house in its normal function. It is deserted for a season 
then destroyed. 

Each marital grouping possesses two house sites, each 
site with a house built upon it. The woman has her house in 
her village, the man has his house in his village. The couple 
with their children live alternately in the woman’s house in 
the village of the woman’s matrilineal kin, and in the man’s 

Outline of Social Organization 5 

house in the village of the man’s matrilineal kin. The change 
in residence usually takes place each gardening year, so that the 
one spouse spends alternate years in the other’s place and 
alternate years in own place ; but some couples move more 
frequently to and fro. It is thus required that every person spend 
at least every alternate year, he with his sister and mother, she 
with her brother and mother (and, of course, mother’s brothers 
and sisters). Since every family grouping moves in this fashion, 
it follows that when a man is in his village his wife is also there, 
if his mother is in her village his father or his stepfather is also 
there, and if his sister is in her village his sister’s husband is 
also there. His mother’s brother may also be at home. Then his 
mother’s brother’s wife will be there. He and his sister, his 
mother with her sisters and brothers are all owners of the 
village land where they are resident, owners of the houses built 
upon it, and owners of the palms growing about the village. 

They are the susu. His wife, his father, his sister’s husband, 
his mother’s brother’s wife, on the other hand, own land, houses, 
and palms in their own different villages. They are repre- 
sentatives of the various susu of other places, and they are in 
the place of their affinal relatives temporarily for the year. 

Now, although these incoming visitors, who are not local 
owners, have each a retiring place in the village exclusively to 
themselves with their respective husbands or wives — the 
interior of the house — they spend a great part of the day and 
the early evening outside their houses in sight of and in frequent 
communication with the local owners and the wives and 
husbands of others of the local owners. Certain rules and 
observances govern this communication. 

The incomers are called Those-resulting-from-marriage, 
or strangers, as a collective class by the collective class which 
is called Owners of the Village. Owners of the village use 
personal names between themselves freely to persons of their 
own or a younger generation. To their elders they prefer to 
use relationship terms, though the personal name is not for- 
bidden. But Those-resulting-from-marriage cannot use the 
personal name of any one of the owners down to the smallest 
child, except in the case of a father to his own child. They must 
use a term of relationship. Owners of an ascendant generation 
can and do use their names freely, however. Moreover, one of 
Those-resulting-from-marriage cannot use the personal name 
of any other person in the same class. Again, a relationship 
term must be used. Those-resulting-from-marriage, while 


Social Organization 

they are yet newly married, must approach an owner’s family 
sitting beneath the owner’s house by a roundabout way, circling 
in unobtrusively and bending apologetically while they do so — 
their own spouse being the only owner excepted. By the time 
one or two children are born this behaviour is usually discarded 
towards the own mother-in-law’s susu. But it remains even 
later towards other susu in the village (at least when an unusual 
mode of behaviour is set up, as when I might ask a man to 
come and introduce me to some of the more distant village 
relatives of his own mother-in-law’s susu). 

“ Those-resulting-from-marriage ” are not supposed to be 
themselves kinsmen. It happens sometimes that they are. But 
this develops from linked parallel marriages between the same 
two places which are strongly disapproved. “ Those-resulting- 
from-marriage ” are supposed to be on entirely formal terms with 
each other when they are resident in the owners’ village, avoiding 
each other’s personal names. It is not fitting that they should 
be kinsmen and of the one village ; and economic arrangements, 
as we shall see later, discriminate against such linked marriages. 
Moreover, in case two villages are linked by several marriages, 
as they are becoming nowadays in places where the population 
has receded seriously, a suicidal ending to one marriage might 
rend the others into two opposing groups bound to revenge 
and defence against revenge respectively. In the state of uneasy 
marriage found in Dobu it is fitting that one village should 
hesitate to involve itself over deeply with another, but prefer 
to spread its marriages widely. This is actually stated as the 

“ Those-resulting-from-marriage,” if they are men, are 
always abnormally uneasy about their wives’ fidelity. Now 
when a woman is in her own village, she has her kin next door 
and only too ready to eject her husband if he dares to lift a 
hand against her, or use foul language to her. She has no great 
dependence on her husband for care of her children, since a 
woman can nearly always get a new husband for future help, 
and her brother ultimately provides for them in any case. 
Consequently she behaves very much as she likes in secret. 
Suspicion and close watching are not relaxed by her jealous 
resultant-from-marriage. Sooner or later anger between man 
and wife flares up in public. Then the woman’s kin tell the 
man to get out. He has no sympathy from the others-resulting- 
from-marriage. They are for the most part no kin of his, and 
they are not a united body as the collective class formed of the 

Outline of Social Organization 7 

several stisu Owners of the Village are. The result is that the 
unfortunate resultant-from-marriage gets out precipitately, 
usually being designated in uncomplimentary obscene terms 
by irate owners as he goes. Dobuan folklore is full of husbands 
pathetically packing up their goods and going home to their 
mothers and sisters after a child has informed them that their 
wife has been consorting secretly with a male member of a 
distantly related susu of her own village. All men of the village 
call all women of the village of their own generation sister, but 
some are not close parallel cousins in reality, their relationship 
being of a degree that cannot be determined from known 
genealogy. Marriage within the village is strongly dis- 
countenanced, but casual sex affairs between distant “ brothers ” 
and “ sisters ” of other stisu of the village occur often. The 
husband either gets out without insulting or striking his wife 
as in the folk-lore, or else both insults and strikes her and then 
gets out before he is injured, but under danger of injury, as 
I saw happen in real life. Conversely when a woman is in her 
husband’s place she is jealous of him and watches for signs of 
his intrigues with village “ sisters ” of his. I do not know how 
much actual village “ incest ” of this order there is, but I do 
know that suspicion of it is frequently flaring up into as much 
trouble as if the suspicion were perfectly founded. The offended 
husband always believes his suspicion is true, the owners 
invariably repudiate it, and no conciliatory mechanism exists, 
apart from the husband sometimes pocketing his pride later, 
sometimes not, and sometimes resorting to a suicidal attempt 
on his life. In reality, as in the legends, children are enlisted 
as informers. Jealousy normally runs so high in Dobu that a 
man watches his wife closely, carefully timing her absences 
when she goes to the bush for natural functions. And when 
it is the time for women’s work in the gardens here and there 
one sees a man with nothing to do but stand sentinel all day and 
play with the children if any want to play with him. 

It will be apparent that the strength of the marital grouping 
is not improved by the solidarity of the susu, which is main- 
tained by the rule of alternate residence. Incest prohibition is 
not too difficult to enforce within the small family. But when 
the children are grown adults, many with dead parents, belonging 
to different family lines that have only mythological validation 
of common ancestry, all thrust closely together by local residence 
and taught to regard their village mates as brothers and 
sisters, and people of other villages as dangerous sorcerers and 

8 Social Organization 

witches, enemies all, then it is not unnatural that the strain of 
considering a woman of a friendly group as a sister sometimes 
breaks down. One’s wife, after all, is a member of a group that 
may only modify its underlying hostility at best. Parents-in- 
law are frequently divined by the diviner as the sorcerer or 
witch that is making one ill. In the lower social forms the bee’s 
division into three classes of queen, worker, and drone is a 
type that works with no strain. But sister-brother solidarity 
with an artificial extension of the sister-brother relationship 
does not work with the husband-wife solidarity very well under 
Dobuan conditions. One solidarity tends to gain predominance. 
Then friction tends to occur between the two groupings. This 
friction is expressed in sorcery and witchcraft terms as well as 
in terms of jealousy, quarrel, attempted suicide, and village 
“ incest ”. 

The following diagram of marital grouping and susu 
respectively may be useful for a summary of the argument as 
far as it has gone : — 

The circle enclosed group is the marital grouping, the 
oval enclosed group is the susu. It is evident that the man (a) 
is a member of both groupings. He has a loyalty to each group. 
The gain of one group from him will be at the expense of the 

The susu, with the brother-sister solidarity at its base, has 
as its gains ; — 

(1) The inheritance and exclusive possession of a’s corpse. 

(2) The inheritance and exclusive possession of a’s village 
land and palms. 

Outline of Social Organization 9 

(3) The right to exclude a’s children from entering a’s sum’s 
village after a is dead. 

(4) The right to enforce a to live in his sister’s village every 
alternate year in despite of marriage ties, and reciprocally he 
is forced in alternate years to live in his wife’s brother’s village. 

The marital grouping has as losses the inheritance of a’s 
corpse, the inheritance of a’s village land and palms, the right 
to enter a’s village after a is dead (for widows as well as widows’ 
children are excluded), and the right to live in one place in a 
settled manner, such as would probably be more in accord with 
marital congeniality. Related cultures, neighbours to Dobu, 
have fixed patrilocal marriage with sum right otherwise similar 
to Dobu. I studied one such culture fairly intensively. Divorce 
is not one-fifth as frequent as in Dobu. Moreover, “ those- 
resulting-from-marriage ” are all women come into their 
husband’s place more or less permanently. The Dobuan custom 
makes “ those-resulting-from-marriage ” half men, half women 
of non-permanent residence, and non-permanent even in 
changing residence, because the chances of divorce are high. 
The oldest Dobuan in my main genealogy had had eight 
successive marriages, one of the youngest men in the genealogy 
had had four, one other youth, three, and this is fairly typical 
of an overwhelming majority of Dobuans. It is so in every 
separate sea-divided district that is Dobuan in culture. The 
result is that each Dobuan village shelters a heterogenous 
collection of men of different village allegiance who distrust 
one another thoroughly. Suspicion of sorcery and poisoning 
tactics within the village runs very high at times. In the 
patrilocal marriage of neighbouring cultures all the men of the 
village are “ brothers ”, owners of the village in every case. 
All resultants-from-marriage are women and suspicion of 
foul tactics within the village is not found. There can be no 
doubt that the rule of alternate residence, while it enjoins and 
expresses a sohdarity between the owners, disrupts the relations 
between the owners and their separate spouses, “ Those- 
resulting-from-marriage.” We can quite fairly assign this 
custom as a gain to sum right and a loss to marital grouping 
right. Conversely a brother-sister tabu, if it were inaugurated 
and carried far enough, would prevent the alternate residence 
rule, or, at least, tend to prevent the extended “ incest ” that 
follows with alternate residence as it exists in Dobu. Such a 
brother-sister tabu would be a gain for the marital grouping 
over the susu. It would tend to put (a) with his w'ife and her 

10 Social Organization 

children more, and less with his sister and her children (see 
Fig .III). It will be clear from the Dobuan situation how a brother- 
sister tabu would strengthen the family by marriage. There is 
no hint of any such tabu, however, in Dobu, except that young 
unmarried men do not sleep in the same house with their young 
unmarried sisters. The young man is turned out of the parental 
house, the daughter of the house remains in it. The youths 
go and sleep with the daughters of other houses, and the brothers 
of other girls of other villages come to sleep with their sisters. 
It is not a brother-sister tabu, for a youth with no sister is 
excluded from his parents’ house, but an active arrangement 
whereby the young men seek out the sisters of other young 
men who live afield. The full estimation of the disruptive 
possibilities in the Dobuan rule of alternate residence can only 
be reached after a discussion of Dobuan sorcery. That I cannot 
do within the limits of this chapter. Meanwhile, pending later 
substantiation, it must be provisionally accepted from the results 
that the rule is a gain of susu right, a loss for the marital grouping. 

We may now consider in further detail these gains of the 
susu, losses of the marital grouping. Firstly I shall deal with the 
inheritance of the corpse. 

When death has come there is first private mourning within 
the house of the dead person by the members of the dead’s 
own susu. The spouse of such a mourner mourns kneeling on 
the ground outside the house, away from the corpse, and not 
looking upon it. The spouse of the dead has gone from the 
village. Then after an hour or so has passed in this manner, 
the corpse is carried from the interior of the house to the house 
platform. Once the corpse is out on the house platform, it is 
displayed and adorned. It is propped against or fastened to one 
of the two huge logs which make a great inverted V in front of 
the house platform of the house of death. Large yams are put 
about the corpse if the deceased was a good gardener. Ornaments 
of value are put on the corpse to indicate that the deceased was 
rich. The eldest child of the eldest sister of the deceased takes 
the personal possessions of the deceased, usually his or her 
lime gourd and lime spatula, and sitting by the corpse uses 
these much as the conductor of an orchestra uses his baton, 
to beat the time to a slow dirge sung by the members of all the 
susu who are owners of the village. “ Those-resulting-from- 
marriage ” either stay out of the village or remain closeted 
within their spouses’ houses. The dirge may go on through 
the night, or it may be terminated by burial before night. Others 

Outline of Social Organization ii 

of the sister’s children of the dead take other belongings of the 
dead and enact a pantomime with them. One may take a fishing- 
net, if the deceased is a man, and go through all the pantomime 
of fishing. It is the only germ of public dramatics in Dobu. 
If the deceased is female, the conductors of the dirge and the 
mimes are female ; if the deceased is a male they are male. 
Finally the sister’s children, male and female, bear the corpse 
away and bury it. The burial party for a man is of his own susu, 
for a woman it is her sister’s children of a parallel susu. 

If the deceased is a man his wife and his children are not 
present, or in sight of any of these proceedings. It is most 
strictly prohibited. The susu takes exclusive right to mourning 
and burial. If the deceased is a woman her children are present, 
her husband is not. 

The house of the dead is left empty with the great inverted 
V logs in front of it. A small enclosure walled in by plaited 
coco-nut frond mats is erected beneath it. Under the inspection 
of the owners of the village the spouse of the dead now enters 
the enclosure, sitting on a mat on the ground all day, walled 
off, speaking to no one and seeing no one. So begins the year’s 
mourning incumbent upon any member of “ Those-resulting- 
from-marriage ” who survives an owner spouse. 

Let us take the case where He-resulting-from-marriage is 
a man, a widower, and review his year of mourning as it 
approaches its close. To-morrow his year of mourning will be 
ended. To-night there is dancing in the village. The men 
stand in a circle beating the tympanums of their long drums 
with their hands, singing as they beat. Round the circle of 
men trip the women dressed in their finest grass skirts, some of 
the elder holding a girl child by the hand. The song is traditional, 
the widower’s song ; — 

Lie awake, lie awake and talk 
at the midnight hour. 

First lie awake and talk 

lie awake, lie awake and talk. 

Maiwortu, your charcoal body smear 
by Mwaniwara below. 

Dawns breaks the black of night, 
first lie awake and talk. 

Maiwortu, it is understood, is the widower. He is to lie 
awake and talk with his children. Their mother is dead now 
a year gone by. For the year the father has remained in her 
village . When she died he could not see her corpse or mourn her 
intimately. He had to hide himself within a house. When after 

12 Social Organization 

a long period of abstention dancing was allowed again in the 
village he could take no part. Again he had to hide himself when 
at the breaking of the tabu on dancing the skull of the dead is 
taken out by the sister’s children of the dead. Then the village 
owners, the distaff kin of the dead, dance with the skull, singing 
one of the finest of the dance songs of Dobu, the song that 
begins : — 

I go hillwards to Bwebweso, Mountain of the Extinguished, 
by Dokwabu’s white pandanus flower, 

SO bodying forth the spirit on its path to Bwebweso, the hill 
of the dead. 

Just as the corpse may be seen by the owners of the village 
only, so the skull in this rite may be seen by them only. The 
widower, the stranger, or resultant-from-marriage is debarred. 
In the village of his dead wife the widower has not sung, he has 
not smiled, he has not danced, he has not looked at another 
woman. The greater part of the time he has blackened his body 
over with charcoal from the fires. He has put away all his body 
ornaments, all sweet scented herbs. He has eaten the roughest 
and worst food. Bananas, pineapple, oranges, fish, pig, taro, 
the better kinds of yams have been denied to him. All the 
coco-nuts he ate throughout the year were unripe. He ate the 
oldest yams of coarsest consistency. Round his neck he wore 
the many looped, black, rope-like mwagura, the badge of 
mourning. For the earlier month or two of mourning he 
remained confined in the enclosure beneath the house of death 
seated on the ground. Later he emerged to do toilsome work 
for his dead wife’s mother or sister, work of no recompense 
for him. 

Harvest has come again since last harvest when his mourning 
began. At both harvests his village kin are obliged to bring 
big gifts of yams and give them to the kinsfolk of his dead 
wife, getting back smaller gifts, no great recompense, a few 
days after each gift. He has mourned all night before the day 
of the final gift of yams. After the gifts have been set up 
ceremonially in a wood fenced square and then distributed 
among the village kin of the dead, a sister’s son of his deceased 
wife will cut the loop, the mwagura, that was about his neck. 
To-morrow comes this final rite— the time of his mourning 
done. The sister’s sons and brothers of his wife will lead him 
by the hand to Mwaniwara, the farthest eastern point of the 
island. There they will wash his body coat of charcoal from him 
in the sea (for the year he has not bathed in sea or in stream). 

Outline of Social Organization 13 

They will cleanse him, anoint his body with oil, replace his 
body ornaments, and place fragrant herbs in his armlets. They 
will then lead him by the hand to his own village. He will 
never enter their village again. 

In the song Maiwortu, the widower is dramatized, as talking 
night long with his children. They belong to the village of their 
dead mother. There they inherit village status and land, a girl 
from her mother’s sister, a boy from his mother’s brother. There 
they will stay. Their father is prohibited from entering their 
village once again. While the mother lived the father was “ he 
who holds the infant in his arms ”. He played with and carried 
the young children everywhere. But to-morrow a stranger goes 
to his own place. 

So it came about that a widower informant gave me the 
widower’s song with much feeling apparent in his attitude. 
The song depicts a high dramatic point in Dobuan life. Like 
most Dobuan songs it contains an overplay of meaning — dawn 
breaking from the black of night is at once a direct reference 
to the importance of the morrow and also a symbol of Maiwortu, 
the widower, emerging from his body covering of charcoal. 

Widowers engaged in work for their deceased wife’s mother 
or elder sister are usually in a vile temper. They are no use 
whatever to an inquiring anthropologist, and pardonably so. 
Their mourning is so arduous that they are glad to get out 
of it. Staying with their children has become associated with 
a year’s misery. They leave their misery and their children’s 
company together behind them. 

A widow observes parallel custom in the village of her dead 
husband. Her children cook food frequently for the sister’s 
children of their dead father or stepfather. The children can 
go as far as the outskirts of the village of their dead father, while 
the widow turns aside or back some distance away (as does the 
widower in his relation to the village of his dead wife also). 
Widow and children of the dead man cannot look on his corpse 
or on his skull when it is taken in the dance. The skull is kept 
by the sister’s child of the dead — within the susu. 

After a person’s death his or her personal name and skull 
are inherited by the heir to the village house site. This former 
inheritance is made exclusive and is safeguarded by its being 
prohibited for any person not of the dead’s own immediate 
susu to utter the name of the dead or the name of any common 
object which is also the name, or includes as a part, the name of 
the dead. Thus if a man dies his sister’s son inherits his name. 

14 Social Organization 

The man’s own son is prohibited from using the name of his 
dead father. Only the true sisters of the dead, their children, and 
their daughters’ children are allowed to use the name in 
addressing the dead man’s sister’s son. Thus the name descends 
within the susu, the ringed groups in my various diagrams above. 
Every person has two personal names. One, the name of a dead 
person of the susu, is used within the susu alone to designate the 
heir of the dead. The other personal name is used by the other 
susu of the village, owners of the village outside own immediate 
susu, and by a father to his child. A relationship term only, as 
we have already seen, is used by Those-resulting-from-marriage 
to owners except in the case of father to child. We have thus 
three grades of distance of relationship clearly demarcated in 
the use of terms of address. Not only does the sister’s son inherit 
a dead mother’s brother’s name, but he also takes over his 
mother’s brother’s status in regard to terms of address used to 
the biological descendants of his mother’s brother. Thus a 
man will call his dead mother’s brother’s son, my son. 
Reciprocally a man calls his dead father’s sister’s son, my 
father (if anyone wishes to refer back to Fig. Ill (b) calls (c) my 
father, after (a)’s death for (c) inherits (a)’s village land, (a)’s 
skull, (a)’s name, and {a)’s status ; (c) calls (b) my son ; see 

p. 8). 

Previous to (a)’s death (c) called (b) nibagu, my cross-cousin, 
and (b) called (c) my cross-cousin also, i.e. a man calls his 
mother’s brother’s son cross-cousin until his mother’s brother’s 
death, the term being reciprocal. After his mother’s brother’s 
death a man succeeds to his mother’s brother’s property and 
status and calls his mother’s brother’s son, my son, instead of 
my cross-cousin. This change in terminology of address, as 
we shall see later, governs the entire mode of address, for all 
the near relatives of both the cross-cousins who change so, also 
change their terminology, the one party to the other accordantly. 

The child of a dead father is called Boundary Man by the 
Owners of the Village of the deceased. The sister’s son of the 
dead is Owner. Boundary Man is so called because he cannot 
enter his father’s village boundary or eat a single nut or fruit 
of the trees of his father’s village or any food grown on land 
that was his father’s. His cross-cousin Owner can enter 
Boundary Man’s village freely, however. While his father lives 
and the future Boundary Man is still unmarried and living with 
his father and mother, he goes every alternate year with his 
parents to the father’s village. There with his mother he is 

Outline of Social Organization 15 

one of Those-resulting-from-Marriage, a stranger, in relation 
to the Owners, careful never to utter an Owner’s personal 
name. He is a member of the marital grouping as opposed to 
the susu grouping in that village. He has the one advantage that 
we have seen the marital grouping has over the susu — he is a 
member of the unit that lives in a common house. The marital 
grouping again goes gardening together — children with their 
mother and father. In the course of this everyday life in common 
it normally occurs that a great measure of affection springs up 
between father and child as well as between mother and child. 
The affection between mother and child is more stable than 
that between father and child because divorce is common. 
In case of divorce the mother-child association continues. The 
father-child association in such cases is cut short abruptly, for 
the father avoids his former wife, and since the children remain 
with her he can only see them infrequently when they are 
detached from their mother and come to visit him. If he 
acquires step-children by a new marriage he does not care for 
them sentimentally as if they were his own, if they are at all 
grown and independent. Nevertheless, in many cases a father 
remains with his wife and children until some, at least, of his 
children have won affection from him. There are many things 
that he cannot provide for his children. His village land, his 
personal name, his skull, his status, his village palms, and fruit 
trees he cannot by any possibility alienate from his sister’s 
child in favour of his own child. In all these things his child is 
Boundary Man in reality as well as in name. But he can and he 
often does teach his child his magical formula. On the other 
hand, he is obliged by law and induced by his affection for his 
sister and her children to teach his sister’s child his magical 
formulae. In fact, he usually teaches both his child and his 
sister’s child all the magic he knows and possesses. 

This may seem natural enough and reasonable. But in 
reality it is a very horrifying and subversive action. It is not 
said to be either of these things by the Dobuan native, for he 
takes all established custom nonchalantly as the order according 
to which the universe was created. The subversive nature 
of this practice can only be realized when the Dobuan con- 
ception of magic is grasped. I cannot give this conception 
completely here ; but it will be shown later that magic is 
conceived as like a material thing. It gives power, status, 
and a small income, and it may be bought and sold. Or rather 
it is like a doctor’s practice or a business place’s goodwill, 

i6 Social Organization 

or a peer’s title and lands. A doctor that alienated the one 
and the same practice by selling it or bequeathing it to two 
diflFerent persons who were not partners but business antagonists 
would hardly have his sale or will legally supported. The 
same is true of a business goodwill. A sovereign who gave 
two men the same peerage and lands in feudal days would 
have had rebellion at his gates. Yet in Dobu where Boundary 
Man and Owner Heir are not partners or close friends or 
sharers in common property, but are more apt to be antagonistic, 
a parallel practice is made legal enough. The one and the same 
goodwill is given to both men. 

It cannot on the contrary be given to two men who are 
blood brothers. A father will never give his magic to two sons. 
If he has six sons, one will be chosen and five left magicless. 
A man will never give his magic to fwo of his sister’s sons or 
sisters’ sons. One will be chosen and the others left. Primo- 
geniture is the great basis for selection, but it may be set aside 
as amongst ourselves, if sentimental considerations set against 
the eldest in a younger son’s favour. The result is that blood 
brothers are usually very jealous of one another. After they 
come to youth and sexual maturity they never sleep side by 
side. It is not allowed, for were two brothers to sleep side by 
side their blood would change from one sleeper’s body into 
the other’s. This blood transfusion would result in quarrelling 
and maybe fratricide. Such is the superstition for the 
incompatibility. The real incompatibility springs from jealousy 
over inheritance and possibility of inheritance, and its origin 
is unmistakable. What is a rift between blood brothers of 
the one susu is also in part a rift between Boundary Man and 
his cross-cousin Owner. There is jealousy by Boundary 
Man of his cross-cousin succeeding to his father’s status and 
village lands. So people watch Boundary Man and his cross- 
cousin Owner carefully to see how they get on together. If 
they walk together abroad the sight is said to be good. But 
blood brothers should not walk together. That is bad. Blood 
brothers, however, can trust one another not to employ sorcery 
one against the other, whereas Boundary Man and his cross- 
cousin Owner are the closest relatives who may yet fall out to 
the extreme of using sorcery against each other. So it is well 
that they should endeavour to cement this relationship rather 
than their relationships with their respective brothers ; at 
least it is more necessary. 

So Boundary Man and cross-cousin Owner inherit the same 

Outline of Social Organization 17 

magic where blood brothers do not. It is this fact and the fact 
that magic is a unit like a title or a medical practice that makes 
the common inheritance of magic by a man’s son and his sister’s 
son appear subversive. The son is blocked out of village land 
and trees and the skull, for they are material and not so readily 
divisible. He is blocked out from inheritance of his father’s 
personal name, although that is non-material. But, unless 
he has a stepfather who cares little for him — here again the 
mother-right system frequently provides this contingency and 
so blocks him — he is not blocked out from inheritance of magic. 
If, profiting by his closer intimacy, the son gets more of his 
father’s magic than his father’s sister’s son gets from the same 
source, and his father dies, the son cannot legally retain his 
superior position over the man he now calls my father, his true 
father’s sister’s son. The latter may say to him : Imu yawana 
'u da ekara, igu yawana ’« da ekara He nama, “ Your leaf you 
may carry, my leaf you carry returning hither to me.” No 
more need be said. The son. Boundary Man, must then 
teach his father’s sister’s son his excess of magic immediately 
and without fee. But if the latter has an excess Boundary 
Man cannot obtain it from him. No reciprocal right exists. 

It is otherwise between blood brothers. If elder brother A 
has all the magic, younger brother B has no hope of getting 
it ever. In one case I know of A taught some garden magic to 
B’s wife — ^to save appearances he did not teach it to B, though 
B profited by his wife’s gain, as garden crops of man and wife 
are pooled for their common use. B’s wife gave A a tenth 
of her next year’s crop as fee, “ to make the magic pointed,” 
i.e. to make it work well on the crops. Under a thin disguise 
this was really a transaction between the blood brothers, Alo 
and Kisi, of my own Green Parrot village. 

This transaction was not typical of any general fact, however. 
Kisi’s wife was a woman who had been adopted into the family 
as a girl. Adoption is never felt to be as binding a tie as blood 
kinship in Dobu. A foster parent will refer publicly and 
freely to an adopted child as “ a bastard ” or “ an orphan ” 
as the case may be. Even so, Kisi’s marriage was somewhat 
subversive in that he had married a “ sister ” by adoption. 
Alo had more real affection for her than is usual between a man 
and his brother’s wife. The more usual condition is that 
there is no transfer of magic between brothers whatever. 

In this case of the inheritance of magic we see the first 
gain of the marital grouping besides its having a common house. 

i8 Social Organization 

It is not a gain excluding all gain from the susu grouping but 
a division of gains. 

Garden land lies afield from the villages. Here again 
a father gives some land to his son, some to his sister’s son. 
(The eldest son usually inherits and allows usufruct of portions 
of the land to younger brothers.) This custom is as subversive 
of the general lean of the law in favour of the susu as is the 
custom governing the inheritance of magic. Its subversiveness 
becomes apparent when it is recalled that no child can eat of 
any fruit or any crop grown on land that was his or her father’s. 
This applies as stringently to garden land as to village land. 
However, no one objects to eating crop or fruit grown on some- 
one else’s dead father’s land. So at harvest time the women 
dig a basketful or two of yams from their dead father’s land, 
or the land of the dead fathers of their husbands, and then seek 
out someone else who is harvesting from land similarly 
inherited. They exchange baskets and gossip informally 
and then carry the yams home. Law is appeased. 

A canoe must descend within the susu ; so must fishing nets, 
stone adzes, ornamental valuables, and all moveable personal 
property ; so must also the crop of the garden of the dead for 
the gardening season during which death took place. A great 
part of the harvest of the children of the dead man for that year 
passes over also to the sister’s sons of the dead in gifts that 
must be made. All over Dobu as harvest time comes on the 
children of the dead men of the year are cooking and carrying 
gifts of the finest food to the sister’s children of the dead, 
the former paying the latter for their funerary services — 
boundary men acknowledging the rights of their cross-cousin 
owners by adding even more to the latter’s overplus of 
inheritance. It is strange to the European observer to see how 
harvest home, an occasion of rejoicing and church festival 
amongst ourselves, sets Dobu into concentration on the dead 
of the year, on ritual surrounding death. The secret of it is 
that the ritual involves inheritance as well as death ceremonial, 
and inheritance is of first importance to a people so poor. Dobu 
Island, a typical settlement, is 2 miles by 3, an infertile volcanic 
cone for the greater part of its area, and yet forty years ago it 
was inhabited by two thousand people. Now the population 
has shrunken to twelve hundred (although war has been 
abolished) and it looks to be shrinking further. But still 
the pressure of the population upon land is heavy. 

We may summarize the respective gains of the marital 

Outline of Social Organization 19 

grouping versus the susu, father son right versus mother’s 
brother sister’s son right in the folllowing table : — 

Marital Grouping 






Inheritance of — 

(*) ^ 

(i) Corpse and 

As shown to 

skull ; 


(2) Village land 

gain of 

and trees ; 


(3) Canoes, fishing- 


gear, etc. 

(4) J 

(4) Personal name 

and status in re- 

lationship terms. 

(5) Magic with 

(s) Loss of mo- 

(S) Magic with 

no right over 

nopoly of 

rights over e.'ccess 

any excess se- 


secured by mari- 

cured by stisu. 

tal grouping ; 

(6) Half of gar- 

(6) Loss of mo- 

(6) Half of garden 

den land with 

nopoly of gar- 

land with right to 

no right of 

den land. 

eat its crop. 

eating its crop. 

(7) A house in 

(7) Loss of com- 


mon house. 

(8) No common 

(8) Gain of com- 

village (rule of 


mon village. 


illage exo- 




(g) Loss of solid- 

(9) Gain of solid- 

arity by rule of 

! arity by rule of 

alternate resi- 

1 alternate resi- 


1 dence of marital 

I grouping. 

(10) No brother- 

[ (10) No brother- 

sister taboo to 

i sister taboo to 

prevent village 

1 prevent village 



1 incest. 

(11} Widower or 

i (ii) SUSU relatives 

widow cannot 

of the dead can 

enter village of 

1 enter villages of 

dead spouse ; 

the dead’s 

child cannot 

widower or 

enter village of 

' widow or child- 

dead father. 

i ren. 

It will be readily apparent from this table that the social 
organization sets heavily towards susu predominance, or, as 
it is usually called, mother-right. There is some objection 
to this term. It might well be confined to the social organiza- 
tions where all important property is owned by women and 
handed down from mother to daughter. Then mother’s 
brother’s right, or some such differentiated term, might be 
used to distinguish social organizations where men own 

20 Social Organization 

important property, but where a sister has legal claim over her 
brother’s property for her children’s interest. Logically 
the main possibilities for stress are : — 

(1) Father to son. 

(2) Mother to daughter. 

(3) Father and mother bequeathing communal property 
to both son and daughter. 

(4) Man to sister’s child. 

(5) Woman to brother’s child. 

In Dobu (4) is the strongest stress ; (2) is the second 
strongest ; (i) takes third importance ; (3) does not obtain 
as there is rigid separation of much wealth into man’s property 
and woman’s property. Stress (5) occurs very rarely. 

Where (i) is the main stress the term father-right may be 
used suitably, where (2) is main stress mother-right. The 
third stress may be termed marital grouping right, the fourth 
mother’s brother’s right. The fifth we may term father’s 
sister right. Then in these terms Dobu is dominantly mother’s 
brother’s right, secondarily mother-right, thirdly father-right, 
and very much less importantly has an element of father’s 
sister right. 

This last case is a rare and somewhat curious phenomenon 
in Dobu. When a man marries a woman of a far-away place 
he usually comes and settles permanently in his wife’s place, 
affiliating himself with a local branch of his own clan in lieu 
of his own true village far away. Then if he dies away from 
his home, leaving a daughter by his wife this daughter may be 
required to leave her mother and her mother’s place and go 
to her father’s sister, far away. There she must stay until she 
bears a child in her father’s place. She then has her choice 
of leaving her child to replace that place’s loss of her father, 
and coming home to her mother, or of staying on in her father’s 
place with her own child. In this way a curious rift is made 
in the susu line of mother, daughter, and daughter’s daughter. 
Two of these three may remain together, but not three, and 
mother and young child are parted early. It is the one exception 
to the rule that a child may not enter a dead father’s place. 
In this case a child must enter the dead father’s place and the 
father’s sister’s house. If she stays there long in desertion 
of her mother after bearing her first child she becomes adopted 
as if she were a real daughter of her father’s sister. Then 
she can stay with her own child. This course is not followed 

Marriage 21 

inevitably, or even frequently, in the rare cases where a man 
marries in a far-away place and dies there. But it may happen. 
I saw one such case. Its motivation I shall discuss later in 
discussing economic exchanges. 

Although marriages between distant places are rare in Dobu, 
the existence of such a possible claim of the father’s sister over 
her brother’s daughter, as well as the claim of the son on the 
inheritance of the father in many more normal marriages, 
in a society where susu right is as strong as it is in Dobu, is 
convincing in proving the inadequacy of the old terminology 
of mother-right and father-right. The more exact terms are 
needed, for exactness in terminology may be always an aid to 
future observation. I began in Dobu with an outlook bound by 
the rigidity of the old mother-right conception, and loosened 
only in part by Dr. B. Malinowski’s evidence from the 
Trobriands ; in consequence I did not discover some of the 
exceptions until I was in my sixth and last month there. 

I have as yet only shown the susti at work in death, mourning 
and inheritance, its most important aspect, with several pre- 
liminary sketches of its working in marriage. The marriage 
picture requires now some further elaboration. We shall 
consider both the marital grouping in itself and in its relation 
to the susu. 



We have already seen that convention compels a boy who 
has arrived at puberty to leave his parents’ house for sleeping, 
while the daughter of the house of equivalent age is allowed to 
remain. The houseless boys usually sleep in the house of 
a divorced man who is temporarily without a wife, or, more 
frequently, roam in the night until they find a girl each who 
will grant them sex intercourse and houseroom for sleeping. 
No one builds a house except for marriage, the houses for 
food-storage excepted. The boys prefer to sleep with a different 
girl every night in order to avoid permanent entanglement. 
If a boy sleeps many times in succession with the same girl 
her parents will marry the pair out of hand by enforcing public 
recognition and public economic exchanges between the boy’s 

22 Social Organization 

kindred and themselves. Faithfulness between the pair is 
then considered necessary. If, however, a boy sleeps with very 
many dilferent girls he avoids marriage, and his affairs he keeps 
private with no public recognition whatever. He must leave 
the girl’s house before dawn to avoid being seen by the adult 
members of her village. If he oversleeps and is caught publicly 
in the place of his sleeping he has to marry the girl. The boys 
are careful to avoid entanglement usually until they are at least 
eighteen or more. Then one by one they become weary of 
the rigorous regime of late roving nights and early morning 
risings ; they fall into a deeper attachment with one preferred 
girl, and become afraid that a rival will marry her to their 
complete estrangement from her. So they deliberately over- 
sleep one morning. The mother of the girl gets up before the 
young pair and steps out on to the house platform. There she 
sits calmly blocking up the exit with her body. The young 
man rises. If even now he has an impulse to flee he cannot. 
He respects the girl’s mother too much to ask her to stand aside. 
The village see an unusual event has occurred. They gather 
curious to see what youth will emerge. They send word to 
neighbouring villages and people from the environs gather. 
Everyone circles around and stares. Into this glare of curious 
publicity the youth and the girl descend at last from the house 
and sit side by side on a mat on the ground. The spectators 
remain and do nothing but stare for half a hour or so. This 
staring ceremony makes the engagement. It is aggressive 
publicity directed towards a relationship which was before as 
aggressively private. For no youth or maiden would speak 
of a mere sex relationship to any one whatever — except to 
perhaps one child confidant and helper. Before betrothal 
privacy is as aggressively sustained as at betrothal privacy is 
aggressively and staringly outraged. Finally, the starers 
disperse. The girl’s mother, now formally the youth’s mother- 
in-law. places a digging-stick into the youth’s hand and 
says, “ Go, make a garden,” or if it is not yet the new garden 
season she gives him other seasonal work. 

The youths do not sleep with the girls of their own village, 
terminologically their sisters. Their general relationship to 
the people of the villages where they do sleep with the girls, is 
peculiar. We have seen how Those-resulting-from-marriage 
are rifted apart from their spouses at their spouses’ death, and 
how the susu steps in to deal with intimate mourning and the 
disposal of the corpse, to enforce an onerous and unpleasant 



kind of mourning upon the surviving widow or widower for a 
year (sometimes it is for two years), and finally how the susu 
lead the widow or widower away from their village never to be 
allowed to show face in it again at peril of death from the susu 
owners of the village. There is much more than ceremonial 
dictation in this matter. More often than not the rift will be 
reinforced by a wall of sullen suspicion on the one hand and 
resentment of suspicion on the other. The Owners of the 
Village suspect the village kin of the surviving spouse, widow, 
or widower as the case may be, of treacherous secret murder, 
by forces that leave no trace, done against their dead kinsman. 
Over this wall of private suspicion public gift exchanges between 
the rifted places will follow when next harvest home sets a wide 
round of mourning ceremonial in operation between all the 
villages. The observer of such exchanges will see no friendly 
intermingling of the parties concerned, but a distance set and 
strictly maintained, distance in sitting arrangements and reserve 
or even hostility in manner. It is unlike ceremonial hostility 
as commonly found. There are no social forms of hostility, 
only very real private feeling of the type that cannot be discussed 
in public. Moreover, the kin of the widow or widower pay 
to release their kinsman from mourning durance. They do 
not obtain a fair gift of equal value in exchange. But when 
later the survivor dies the balance in gift exchange will be 
redressed by the kin of the earlier dying party to the marriage 
reversing the arrangement. There will, however, be no one 
of their number to mourn the survivor at his (or her) death as he 
(or she) mourned his (or her) predecessor in death. The forces 
of murder that are suspected between the villages are sorcery 
and witchcraft. 

One marries into a village of enemies, witches, and sorcerers, 
some of whom are known to have killed or to be the children 
of those known to have killed members of one’s own village. 
The night divides the villages — apart from love-making, 
a hundred yards is as far as a thousand or ten thousand for all 
practical purposes. Even roaming for love-making should 
be done while the night is still young. In the dark spaces 
between the villages the agents of death roam — the death- 
dealing spirits of the women and men of all other villages, 
witches and sorcerers all. This village parochiality, cut off 
from all other villages by the great fear of the terrors of the 
night, a child grows up in. It is never forgotten. Later, in 
sentiment, the land of the village of birth and upbringing 

24 Social Organization 

is felt as own land with a completeness of feeling probably 
deeper than that of our own landed families. In Dobu it is 
two villages by residence — ^but marriage with the father’s 
village occurs very rarely. The feeling of strangeness in the 
village of marriage remains unaltered. 

The boys who go out for love-making then, go out with 
great boldness into a night filled with terrors. They are 
usually supported by a good conscience in that they have not 
given offence to the adults of other villages, a fact not so true 
of their parents . N evertheless, they go into dangerous territory , 
for it is well known that in matters of sorcery and witchcraft 
native vengeance may visit the sins of the fathers, mothers, 
and mother’s brothers upon the children down the generations. 

The terrors of the night are very real in Dobu. Blood- 
curdling shrieking breaks the silence of the night or the small 
hours of the morning fairly often in the villages, and more 
often than not the inmates of the terrified house are sick, listless, 
and stay at home next day. 

In imagination, then, we can to some extent reconstruct 
the feelings of the youth caught definitely and finally in a 
strange village. Probably like Kinosi, my house boy, he 
remembers vividly a scare of his childhood when he went to 
stay a while with relatives afield. lyem, Kinosi’s younger 
brother, was better developed physically than Kinosi, despite 
his comparative youth. But Kinosi while yet a small child 
went to visit a strange place. The woman of the house he 
stayed in was a powerful witch. She swallowed Kinosi whole 
and passed him out whole through her anus. Kinosi’s growth 
suffered thereafter, and his younger brother grew better than 
he. Strange places are places where nightmare is reality. 

Accordingly the youth feels respect and fear for the powerful 
old witch, his mother-in-law, as she sits blocking the exit of 
her house where he has lain with her daughter. Under the 
staring ordeal of the strangers, many of them sorcerers and 
witches far feared, he feels respect and no little awe. They 
are Owners here and he a stranger, one of Those-resulting- 
from-marriap, hereafter in this place. When his mother-in- 
law gives him the digging-stick he goes off most obediently 
to dig a garden. So the economic system lays firmer hold of 
a boy than ever it did before. Now he is responsible to his 
relatives-in-law as well as to his own kin and his work is doubled 
at a stroke. 

He begins at once to avoid the personal names of the owners 



in the girl’s village. He cannot eat or drink in the sight of any 
one of the owners until he is finally married. Before this takes 
place he must satisfy his future mother-in-law and father-in-law 
that he has a good garden, and he must work with them in 
their gardens. He continues to sleep with his betrothed 
regularly at night, but during the day he avoids her village 
unless he is specifically asked to enter it with gifts for his 
betrothed’s kin. 

Early in the morning he goes from her village with her 
father and mother to garden. The three work ; then about 
ten o’clock her mother cooks a little food in the garden and the 
elders, husband and wife, eat together. The unfortunate 
future son-in-law cannot eat or drink in the presence of his 
future parents-in-law. He goes on working, hungry and tired. 
Let the anthropologist speak to a parent-in-law while the affair 
is still at this stage, and the old man guffaws most merrily at 
the miserable predicament of his future son-in-law. He is 
so very hungry — guffaw — ^but he cannot eat — guffaw — he 
digs and digs and digs most earnestly and strongly — guffaw. 
To the Dobuan father-in-law it is a most humorous and highly 
appreciated situation. But the young man gets away about 
noon, hungry, hot, and weary, and escapes to his own village 
to satisfy his needs. 

When he is not working for his parents-in-law to be, the 
youth is working with his own kin to accumulate the food and 
gifts that must be exchanged between the villages against the 
marriage. Then when, after a year’s betrothal or longer all 
is prepared, the marriage takes place. The groom’s relatives 
take a gift of ornamental valuables, arm rings of white shell 
and necklaces of red shell, to the bride’s relatives. The bride’s 
mother receives the gift and distributes it to her kin. She 
and her female relatives then go to the groom’s village and 
formally sweep it throughout. At the same time they take 
a big gift of uncooked food, and after they have swept the village 
and given away most of this uncooked food, they cook some 
of the food which they retained for the purpose in the groom’s 
village, give it to the groom’s kin and receive a smaller gift 
of cooked food from the groom’s kin. 

Next day the groom’s kin carry a big gift of uncooked food 
to the bride’s village, give it to the bride’s kin, cook a small 
part of it in the bride’s village and give it to the bride’s kin, 
and receive a smaller gift of cooked food from the bride’s kin. 

The bride’s mother formally puts some food of her cooking 

26 Social Organization 

into the groom’s mouth. Bride and bridegroom sleep in the 
house of the groom’s parents for the first time. Next day the 
groom’s mother prepares food and formally puts some of it 
in the bride’s mouth. The pair are now married. Marriage 
is merely economic exchanges between groom’s kin and bride’s 
kin, and the groom eating food in the presence of his 
mother-in-law in her village for the first time, and the 
bride eating food in the presence of her mother-in-law in her 
mother-in-law’s village for the first time. 

During the betrothal period the youth often gave gifts of 
betel nut to his parents-in-law to be, but nothing further except 
gardening service. 

The interesting point about the marriage validation is that 
the exchanges are made between villages organized in susu 
formation. The initial gift of armshells and shell necklace 
is presented by the youth, his mother and her sisters and 
brothers, and his own sisters and brothers. It is received by 
the bride’s mother and distributed to her brothers and sisters, 
and sister’s children. So also are the gifts of food exchanged. 
At one of these exchanges the owners of the village sit at the 
far end of their village. The distaff kin of the groom or bride 
who are the visitors bringing gifts sit at the end of the village 
nearest their own village. A wide space in between separates 
the two parties. There is no casual intermingling between 
the parties. Every woman present is with her brother. Every 
man present is with his sister and sister’s children. No group 
of man, wife, and child is to be seen in either of the exchanging 
parties. Fathers-in-law are out of it, as are all of Those- 
resulting-from-marriage in either village. It is strange to 
a European to look on a marriage ceremonial which is celebrated 
with an entire absence of anyone in a family-by-marriage group. 
All marriage ceremonial, at its inception and later, however, 
is marked by a complete disappearance of the marital grouping. 
After dusk, when the day’s ceremonial is ended, husbands 
come back to their wives and children. All day they were 
with their sisters and sisters’ children, if they belonged to either 
of the contracting villages. If they did not belong to the 
contracting villages they either visited their sisters afield, or 
else formed male parties with other purely masculine business 
in view. 

Each marriage is cemented by periodic exchanges of food 
between the owners of the contracting villages, one or two big 
inter-village feasting exchanges in the name of each marriage 



every season, and many smaller exchanges confined more to 
the true susu of the married parties rather than to all the susu 
of the villages concerned. 

“ Those-resulting-from-marriage ” when they rejoin their 
spouses in the evening after the latter have been engaged all 
day in an inter-village feasting exchange in conjunction with 
brother or sister and sister’s child, find plenty of food left over 
in the house. Officially they have no right to take part in the 
ceremony, but quite unofficially if plenty of the finest food 
is found ready cooked about the hut in the evening they are 
allowed to eat of it. 

Marriage is forbidden — 

(1) Between owners of the village. 

(2) Between cross-cousins. 

Marriage between owners of the village leads to severe coughing 
spasms in the offending pair, and much indignation, scorn, 
and ridicule heaped upon the offenders by their kin. It occurs 
very rarely. A few rare spirits have done it, however, warding 
off the danger of coughing spasms by strong magic, enduring 
the initial indignation and scorn of their kin, and bribing their 
kin back into a state of goodwill or at least toleration with heavy 
bribes. The few marriages of this type that I saw seemed to 
be the most enduring in Dobu. The spouse is not a resultant- 
of-marriage in an inferior position to protest against adulterous 
incest. Besides the joy in adulterous incest is considerably 
gone when marriage is incestuous, itself a greater adventure. 
Bickering did occur in one or two of these marriages. One 
man left his wife four times. But four times he came back 
to her and to her alone. She was in his village. How could 
he escape from her ? There is none of the elan in escape as in 
escape from marriage afield. 

“ Now God be thanked that roads are long and wide 
And four far havens in the scattered sky.” 

Nothing of that — only 

“ It would be hard to meet you and pass by ” — and even 
harder than meeting and passing by in a Dobuan village would 
be to introduce a new wife into a village where one had been 
married to an owner, and to have the new wife meet the old and 
pass by. It could not be done without bloodshed. 

Accordingly the rare marriages between owners endure. 
But very few men can win their kin round to tolerating and 

28 Social Organization 

licensing such incestuous marriage. Again, many persons 
may not fall in love with those with whom they commit village 
“ incest 

In all cross-cousin marriage a Boundary Man, male or 
female, would marry into a father’s village, boundary man 
marrying cross-cousin owner. But since boundary man is 
not allowed in a dead father’s village, he or she must not marry 
there while his or her father is still living for fear of future 
trouble with the rule of alternate village residence. Moreover, 
cross-cousin owner inherits food and food resources which 
boundary man cannot eat. Thus cross-cousin marriage would 
lead to boundary man violating the tabu on his entering his 
dead father’s village. The tabus restricting inheritance 
within the stisu operate against boundary man, the disinherited, 
marrying into the susu. The disinherited is given no back 
stairs entrance into the inheritance. 

Marriage of two or three matrilineal kindred into the same 
village is discouraged. The sight of it is said to be ugly by 
those who are not involved in it. We may take the case of 
a woman X and her brother Y (an actual case) in illustration. 
Let (a) be their village and (c) be the village into which the 
woman X has married. A girl of (c) village wishes to marry Y. 
Y consults with X. He is drawn to the girl and rather wishes 
to marry her — she unswervingly and directly wishes to marry 
him. (A man or woman must always consult his or her 
matrilineal kin before marrying — neglect to do so provokes long- 
standing hostility.) X is thoroughly and completely opposed 
to it. She points out that if her husband’s mother’s brother 
kills a pig in (c) village and sends it to (a) for her relatives to 
eat, their (X’s and Y’s) mother’s brother must distribute it. 
If Y is to get his share a part of the pig must be sent back to (c), 
the village whose present it is. This will be offensive to the 
people of (c), the owners of the village where she and her 
brother will be resident strangers. Her husband’s mother’s 
brother cannot cut off Y’s share and give it to him in village (c), 
for the gift has to go from mother’s brother of one spouse 
to mother’s brother of the other spouse — and the latter alone 
decides whether it is to be eaten (in which case a return gift 
will be given later) or whether it is to be sent on to another 
village (d), where another of his maternal nephews or nieces 
has married, in which case the return gift will come from the 
resources of (d), through (c) to {a). So, also, of all the numerous 
gifts between affinal relatives. Y sees that these conditions 

Marriage 29 

would not conduce to the best relations between him and his 
proposed afhnal relatives and he abandons the prospect of 
marrying the girl of the village of his sister’s relatives in law. 
All brothers, in such a case, are not so dutiful, however. It 
is quite true that the economic exchanges may be hampered 
by such parallel marriages of matrilineal kindred as that 
proposed by X’s brother. Sentiment is opposed to ai epwepwopwo 
as such marriage is termed. It may be that the root of the matter 
is that no one wishes to recommend his or her set of afEnal 
relatives to a kinsman. One marriage only tends to make 
enough trouble between two villages in case of estrangement. 

Marriage with other villages of the same totem is feebly 
discouraged, or at least it is deprecated by a majority who are 
not at the moment involved in it. A considerable minority 
are so married. Such marriage is called by the same term as that 
used for marriage within the circle of the owners of the village, 
ai lokubuna, “ incestuous marriage.” But it is only ai lokubuna 
within the same village that meets with serious hostility. If 
it is with another village of the same totem it is passed over. 

Apart from these restrictions and impediments marriage 
is free for inclination in most cases. The youths try sex 
relationships with a wide circle of girls and finally settle on a 
choice of their own desire. Equality in age of youth and 
maiden is held to be desirable. In a small minority of cases 
parents betroth their children while they are still young, some- 
times before puberty, for economic reasons. A family of 
outstanding gardeners may betroth its child to the child of 
a similarly rich family. In these cases the children are supposed 
to be faithful to each other after puberty when the wide circle 
of free love opens to most children. But the great majority 
of families strike such a dead level of riches or poverty that 
there would be no point in child betrothal except fear of entangle- 
ment with the few wastrel families. This fear is not 
strongly enough felt to limit the freedom of most of the 
youths and girls in practice. 

The term free love is not altogether accurate. There is 
not necessarily love in it as we understand love. The youths 
sleep with the girls in the first place because it is the custom to 
deny them houseroom at home. They play jews’ harps outside 
the houses of other villages until in one house a girl asks who 
the seranader is. She tells him to go away or else to come in, 
as she wishes. Sometimes a boy does not know anything of the 
girl who so admits him. Eanosi, my personal “ boy ”, once 

30 Social Organization 

told me how he found himself in a strange house. Luckily 
he had matches. He struck one to have a look at the girl. Her 
skin was covered with the scales of ringworm. He immediately 
fled from the house. When a boy and a girl make stronger 
preferences later, it is of their own inclination, however, and 
in some cases their preferences are so contrary to their parents’ 
wishes or to the restrictions on marriage that I have mentioned 
above, that they actually do make mesalliances in the teeth of 
public opinion. These cases show that there is much real love 
in Dobuan courtship, even if there is little or no romanticism. 



The first reliable records of Dobuan population show that 
there was an average of twenty-five persons, men, women, and 
children, in each village. A group of neighbouring villages 
forms a local unit with a local name. This local unit I propose 
to call the locality. The locality numbers from four to twenty 
villages. It is on terms of permanent hostility with other 
localities. It is a unit that is for the most part endogamous. 
In case a member of a locality is ill or dead the diviner or sorcerer 
or witch does not divine a member of another locality as the 
sorcerer or witch responsible for the trouble. The black art, 
like marriage, keeps within the locality borders. War, on the 
other hand, as opposed to more private black art feuds, was 
carried on against other localities. Fighting to avenge sorcery 
or witchcraft I class as private feud within the locality. 

Dobuan population has now, after forty years of white 
influence, missionary, trading, and government, dwindled to 
where approximately twelve persons replace twenty-five. 
(This is for Dobu Island ; in Tewara the case is worse ; other 
places I do not know.) During this time there has been no war, 
and open murder in private feuds has been detected and 
punished. But still the localities keep their old barriers — 
without war. The locality is still endogamous. Divination of 
sorcery and witchcraft still keeps within the locality borders. 

The village consists of several susu, several women with 
their children and their brothers. Many cannot show a 
genealogical relationship, for a susu only knows its own 

Totemism 31 

genealogy back for four generations at the most. Back of the 
fourth generation there is an ancestress common to all the susu 
of the village. This common ancestress is not a human being, 
but a bird. It is possible that the genealogies of the different 
susu of the village might meet if they were carried back far 
enough, but the fourth generation back is not enough. 

My best account of such ancestry was derived from Alo of 
the Green Parrot village. 

“ Green parrot became pregnant. She laid an egg and 
brooded over it. It hatched forth — it appeared, not a bird, 
a human being. The child, a female, grew. The nest collapsed. 
If fell to the ground. 

“ The husband, child of the White Pigeon, was at sea fishing 
with nets. The woman, child of the Brown Eagle, his wife, 
walked the shore looking for shell fish. She heard the child 
wailing. She took it to her village and suckled it. There it grew 
up. It became a very beautiful woman. The woman child of 
Green Parrot married. She bore four children, two male, two 
female. Her children grew to adult stature. The two brothers 
married women of the White Pigeon village. The two sisters 
married men of the Brown Eagle village. These children said 
‘ we are the children of Green Parrot They founded our Green 
Parrot village. 

“ The woman hatched from the egg of Green Parrot was 
named Bolapas. Bolapas bore the daughters, Negigimoia and 
Daloyos. Daloyos bore Dosi. Dosi bore my mother.” 

This legend uses the idea of the pre-existence of the White 
Pigeon’s line and the Brown Eagle’s line to account for the 
nurture of the Green Parrot line. The former two lines, of 
course, presuppose the pre-existence of others for their nurture. 
Thus the combined legends of all the Dobuan totemic lines make 
a most illogical system. No Dobuan bothers to institute com- 
parisons, however. So no one ever finds out that the system 
as a whole is self-contradictory. Each totem knows its own 
legend and each susu knows its own ancestry . But no one knows 
the legends of other totems or the ancestry beyond a generation 
or two of other susu. If the dead of other susu are known their 
names must never be pronounced. Personal names are often 
names of common usage ; thus in Dobu Island and elsewhere 
a mat is called sita. In Tewara it was kebana because Sita was 
dead. In Dobu Island first fruits is mweia', in Tewara it is 
bwanawe because Mweia, the mother of my informant of the 
Green Parrot legend, was dead. In Dobu Island perspiration is 

32 Social Organization 

katnweai ; in Tewara it was kasitana until I was given the name 
of the dead Kamweai whose hut site I built upon, when it 
became both kasitana and kamweai again. 

There are from two to four names for almost everything ; 
and by reason of this words do not have to be coined. Some have 
to be avoided carefully. I used mweia once carelessly to the son 
of Mweia, referring to harvest first fruits, and he winced as 
if I had struck him. If it is done by a native, the descendant of 
the dead will rate the offender violently, kokoa gate “ a corpse 
that ”, and bitter and angry reproach followed (as I heard done 
but twice only, so careful are they). It will be remembered 
how all this precaution ensures that the name of the dead is 
inherited in use exclusively within the own snsu of the dead. 
Each susu in the village of the Green Parrot has the same 
legendary account without the same personal names as those in 
the account given. 

The native term for totem is the term for bird. Thus one 
stranger may ask another “ what is your bird ? ” I once asked 
a strange old lady this question and she went off into a voluble 
declaration to the effect that there were no birds for sale in the 
village. The fowls had not had chickens for a long time now, 
and so on. But she was the only person of the hundreds I met 
who so misunderstood me. She took me for a tyro in native 
custom, as white men in general are. 

The legend of the bird does not cover Dobuan totemism 
completely. But the bird is most important and is referred to 
alone in naming a totemic affiliation. It, alone of the totems, 
is believed to be an ancestor. 

The locaUty in Dobu Island is made up of villages arranged 
in order of approach as in the following examples : — 















Locality : Edugaura 
White Pigeon 
White Pigeon 

White Pigeon with an adopted 
Sulphur-crested White Cockatoo 
White Pigeon 
Green Parrot 

Coriphilus fringillaceus, a Parroquet 

White Pigeon 

White Pigeon 

White Pigeon 

Green Parrot 

Green Parrot 

Green Parrot 

Green Parrot 

White Pigeon 



Next to Edugaura comes a locality with the following village 
alEliations in order of approach : — 

Locality : Wabuna 
Coriphilus fringillaceus 
Green Parrot 
Brown Eagle 
Coriphilus fringillaceus 
Green Parrot 

Brown Eagle 

Coriphilus fringillaceus 

Coriphilus fringillaceus 
Coriphilus fringillaceus 
Green Parrot 
Brown Eagle 
Coriphilus fringillaceus 
Green Parrot 

The next locality shows the following order : — 

Locality : Omuri 

Brown Eagle 

Coriphilus fringillaceus 

Coriphilus fringillaceus 

Going from Edugaura on the side of the island opposite 
to that of Wabuna and Omuri localities we find in order : — 

Coriphilus fringillaceus 
Coriphilus fringilhsceus 
Brown Eagle 

Brown Eagle 

making the first locality. 

The next locality, Enai’a, shows ; — 

Coriphilus fringillaceus 
Brown Eagle 
Brown Eagle 
Brown Eagle 
Brown Eagle 
Brown Eagle 

Green Parrot 

Coriphilus fringillaceus 


Social Organization 

The next locality, Adanatu, gives : — 

Kilakila (bird unidentified) 






White Pigeon 

White Pigeon 

White Pigeon 

These localities, six of the twelve in all that are on Dobu 
Island, are thus made up of the following totems : — 




White Pigeon 


Coriphilus fringil- 


Green Parrot 


laceus . . 6 

Brown Eagle 

Coriphilus fringil- 

Green Parrot . 4 

Coriphilus fringil- 



Brown Eagle . 3 

Crow . . 4 


and going away from Edugaura on the coastline opposite to 
Wabuna and Omuri : — 


Coriphilus fringil- 
laceus . . 2 

Brown Eagle . 2 

Crow . . 2 


Coriphilus fringil- 

laceus 2 

Brown Eagle . 5 

Crow . . 2 

Green Parrot . i 


Crow . .6 

White Pigeon . 3 

Kilakila . . i 

We see that Omuri on the south coast is a Crow stronghold, 
and Adanatu on the north coast separated from Omuri by the 
entire width of the Island, and by four hostile localities, is also 
a Crow stronghold. The locality is not a totemic unit. Several 
villages of the one totem tend to aggregate in any one locality. 
There is by no means the maximum of totemic differentiation 
in one locality. Thus Edugaura is strong in White Pigeon and 
in Green Parrot to the complete exclusion of Brown Eagle, 
Crow, Kilakila, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. Omuri is strong in 
Crow to the exclusion of White Pigeon, Green Parrot, Kilakila, 
Sulphur-crested Cockatoo. But despite a tendency towards an 
^88'’®§^tion of two or three totems in a locality, these same 
totems are usually represented in adjoining localities. Thus 
Edugaura was at war with its neighbour Wabuna, although 
Edugaura numbers five Green Parrot villages and Wabuna 
four Green Parrot villages. Green Parrot fought against Green 
Parrot. The boundary of Wabuna is beyond a Crow village 
which opposes a Crow village, the first village in Omuri as one 
leaves Wabuna. Here the locality boundary, the war boundary, 
passes between two Crow villages. The same thing occurs 
elsewhere. It is evident that the co-operating unit, the locality, 

Totemism 35 

is but partially totemically united. The totemic affiliation 
is not one of co-operation in war, except where several villages of 
the one totem are neighbours in a locality. In any case allies 
in war are other totems than one’s own, enemies include some 
of one’s own totem. The principle of alliance is geographical 
boundaries, not claim to common descent from the same bird 

Within the locality villages of the one totem may tend 
to aggregate near together as close neighbours but not 
absolutely. Edugaura is a good instance. In Wabuna on the 
other hand, villages of the one totem are as separated as in 
Edugaura they are aggregated. Enai’a shows an aggregation 
of Brown Eagle villages, Adanatu of Crow. This may be 
seen by a glance at the tables where the villages are in order of 

Since the locality is endogamous for the most part (a small 
minority of marriages go outside the locality nowadays), since 
some totems tend to concentrate in one locality, since the 
villages are small and divorce and remarriage frequent, it will 
be seen that it is reasonable that marriage with another village 
of the same totem should occur in a considerable number of 
cases, as it actually does. 

Different villages of the same totem, whether they are in the 
same locality or not, all claim descent from the same bird 
ancestor, all possess the same validating legend, and all their 
members of the same generation use the terms brother and 
sister to one another. This terminology is one of courtesy, 
however, and occasions of courtesy between village members 
of different localities occur so rarely that they do not matter. 
Within the one locality the terminology is one of courtesy to 
members of other villages of the same totem. But members of 
one’s own village are usually married into other villages of the 
same totem. Then one drops the brother-sister terminology 
and adopts the terms for affinal relatives used by one’s kinsman 
married into those villages. The trend everj’where is to restrict 
the brother-sister, common descent terminology to susu of 
one’s own village, and to adopt the affinal terminology of others 
who are members of one’s own village to all other villages in the 
locality, or else to use the term gosiagu, my friend, freely within 
the locality, rather than the terms for brother and sister in the 
case of other villages of the same totem within the locality. 
This is the natural expression of the fact that the village is a 
co-operative unit, and Green Parrot village A of Edugaura 

36 Social Organization 

locality co-operates no more with Green Parrot village B of 
the same locality, than it does with White Pigeon village C or 
Parroquet village D also of Edugaura. The village group is the 
unit, the extended limit of co-operation except in war. Green 
Parrot village A of Edugaura does not trust Green Parrot village 
B of Edugaura not to employ sorcery or witchcraft against it. 
It is the enemy with whom one marries whereas Green Parrot 
village Y of another locality is the enemy against whom one 
makeswar. These enemies are different. The enemies with whom 
one makes war one does not trust far enough to marry among. 
One marries into one’s allies in war, but suspicion of sorcery 
and witchcraft in practice goes where marriage goes. In theory 
the enemies with whom one makes war are also redoubtable 
sorcerers and witches, but one has nothing to do with them 
apart from war. Sorcery and witchcraft are believed to be 
innocuous at a distance. One does not put oneself in the power 
of those dreaded persons afar. But one is closeted with nearer 
strangers by marriage ties outside the village, within the locality. 
Here one is in strangers’ power. Here in practice evil work in 
the black art is suspected. 

Each village has a set of linked totems, a bird ancestor, a 
fish, and a tree. Every person may make free with his or her 
own totemic objects, provided spouse or father is not also of the 
same totem. No person may eat the bird, eat the fish, or use 
the tree for firewood of the spouse’s village ; no person may 
eat bird or fish or use the tree for firewood of the father’s village. 
Deference is paid to the linked totems of a spouse even where 
they are also own totems, and deference is paid to the linked 
totems of the father, even where they are also own totems (i.e. 
mother’s totems before one). 


Terminology of Relationship 

It has become one of the best known facts in anthropology 
that the use of terms in reckoning relationship normally mirrors 
social custom. This fact is very aptly demonstrated in 
Dobu. Two sets of terms are used from the point of view 
of the children and children’s children, one when the formers’ 

Terminology of Relationship 37 

fathers are still living, one when the formers’ fathers are dead. 
Thus Dobuan terminology depends largely on the life or 
death of that long-suffering outcast, the Dobuan father. 

Dobuan Kinship Terms 

Terms expressing blood relationships {without distortion due to inheritance) 

II (as.) tubuna, all members of the II generation ascendant and the II 
generation descendant, both sexes, either sex speaking. 

I (as.) sinana, all females of the I generation ascendant of one’s own village. 
wana, all males of the I generation ascendant of one’s own village. 
tamana, all males of the first generation ascendant of father’s village. 
kedeana or yaiana, all females of the first generation ascendant of 
father’s village. 

(ego) tasina, own brothers (m.s.), and own sisters (w.s.), and parallel 
cousins of the same sex as the speaker. 
nuuna, own sister (m.s.) and own brother (w.s.) and parallel cousins 
of opposite sex from the speaker. 
nibana, cross cousins (m.s. and w.s.). 

I (des.) natuna, own children, children of parallel cousins and of cross- 
cousins of same sex as speaker (m.s. and w.s.). 
uiana, children of own sister, female parallel cousin and female 
cross cousin (m.s.). 

kedeana, children of own brother, male parallel cousins, and male 
cross cousins (w.s.). 

Affinal Terms 

sinana, wives of all men of father’s village first generation ascendant. 
tamana, husbands of all the women, first ascendant generation of 
own village. 

warm, husbands of all women, first ascendant generation of father’s 

kedana or yaiyana, wives of all men, first ascendant generation of 
own village. 

tasina, wives of brothers and male parallel cousins and male cross 
cousin (m.s.), husbands of sisters, female parallel cousins, and 
female cross cousins (w.s.). 
manetm, wife or husband, spouse. 

warm, children of wife’s brothers, male parallel and male cross 
cousins (m.s.). 

kedeana, children of husband’s sisters, female parallel and female 
cross cousins (w.s.). 

bwosiana, man ascendant generation in the village of wife, or in 
the village of the spouse of own brother or sister (m.s.). 

Utwana, female, ascendant generation in the village of wife, or of 
the spouse of own brother or sister (m3.). 

Male or female ascendant generation in village of husband, 
or of spouse of own brother or sister (w3.). 
eiana, husband’s sister, wife’s brother, spouse of brothers and sisters 
and of cross and parallel cousins, such spouses being of the same 
sex as that of the speaker (m.s. and w.s.). 
mono, male child in the village of spouse or in the village of spouse 
of own brother or sister, not called loana or kedeana (m.s. and w.s.). 
neno, female child, as above. 

After a man’s death there is a change in the terminology 
used between his children and his heir and his heir’s children. 
By the children, after the father’s death, the heir of the father, 
the latter’s sister’s son, or sister’s daughter’s son, is called 

38 Social Organization 

father, tamana, the heir’s sister is called kedeana, father’s 
sister, and their descendants are called by terms flowing from 
this distortion. 

The children of a man called tamana in this fashion by 
his cross cousins are called tasina and nuuna. Since all the 
children of the men of a village are all Boundary Men to the 
same village this terminology may be cast into the Dobuan 
phrase “ all who are Boundary Men to the same village are 
brother and sister of one another” (quite regardless of 

The children of a woman called kedeana or yaiyana in 
this fashion by her cross cousins may in exceptional cases 
be the direct heirs of their mother’s mother’s brother ; this 
is provided they are of age to manage property and provided 
that their mother has no brother to keep the inheritance from 
them until his death. In such case they are tamana or kedeana 
according to sex to their mother’s cross cousins. If this 
exceptional case does not occur, however, their mother’s 
cross cousins usually term them nibana. Here usage is neither 
uniform nor consistent, however. Even Boundary Men 
cross cousins who call their female Owner cross cousins’ 
children nibana teach their own children to call these nibana, 
their children’s age mates, tubuna. This teaching w’ould 
be consistent with the parents calling the same persons tamana 
and kedeana. This is actually done seldom. 

Those who call their female Owner cross cousins’ children 
nibana defend it on the grounds that it is reasonable to call 
their cross cousin who has inherited their father’s personal 
name, father, and his sister, father’s sister ; that just as the 
children of such a tamana are nuuna and tasina so the children 
of such a kedeana should be nibana (as in the undistorted 
terminology before the father’s death such a terminology 
follows) ; and finally that when the male cross cousin Owner 
dies and his personal name (originally their father’s personal 
name), goes to the former’s sister’s son, then it is the correct 
time to call that heir father, and his sister father’s sister. As 
for teaching their children to call their mother’s mother’s 
brother’s daughter’s children, grandparent, that is done 
because when children will be of age the necessary deaths 
to validate the terminology will have occurred. 

The boundary man cross cousin usually allows his owner 
cross cousin’s children the terms yaiyana ( $ ) and tamana ( ) 
if they were old enough to participate in the funerary feasts 

Terminology of Relationship 39 

that immediately followed the death of his father — feasts 
given to an extended group of heirs, the chief heirs getting 
the best shares in this (bwobwore feast). 

It is clearly felt by the Dobuan that the terms tamana 
and sinana primarily express ascendant generation, despite 
the fact that an age mate or a member of a descendant generation 
is called tamana and his wife sinana in case of the death of 
the true father. Tama and sina are common Oceanic terms 
for father and mother, and that is also the most deeply rooted 
meaning in Dobu ; similarly tubu for grandparent and grand- 
child reciprocally. This feeling of expression of generation 
difference in the terms is apparently so strong in Dobu that 
the kinship terminology reluctantly assumes a similar form 
to that found in the Crow Indians of the North American 
Plains, the Tshi of the West Coast of Africa and the Manus 
of the Admiralty Islands. A person referring to the village of 
his or her father’s or mother’s father will always say “ village of 
my grandparents ” and call everyone belonging to it, regardless 
of generation, tubuna. 

Whereas age mates of the biological and true social father 
who are members of his village are all termed tamana by 
classificatory usage, age mates of the Owner cross cousin 
tamana who are members of his village are not called tamana. 
The range of the term is only extended as far as brothers 
who are descendants from a common grandmother, no further. 
Other cross cousins of the father’s village are still called nibana. 
Only in the next generation the usage becomes classificatory 
with full village range. Tubudi (plural of tubuna) is a sign 
for an entire village regardless of generation of its members. 
Persons in this relationship have little to do with one another. 
Only the biological descent line of Boundary Men avoid the 
village of the Owners. The generation that first uses 
classificatory usage here is also the generation in which little 
notice is taken of the relationship and in which it drops from 

It will be clear, I think, from the custom of waiting for 
the death of the father, from the non-classificatory usage 
of the elevated terms in the first generation after the death 
of the father, from the way in which classificatory terminology 
is taught to the second generation possibly for the sake of 
simplicity, certainly not as marking any development of social 
interrelations, from the common Indonesian and common 
Oceanic use of the terms involved, and from frequent Dobuan 

40 Social Organization 

statement, that in Dobu for certain the usage is distinctly 
one which expresses elevation of the inheriting group ; and 
that it cannot possibly be urged here that this system of termin- 
ology is one of neglecting generation differences in order to 
emphasize clan (or in this case village) solidarity. A man’s 
sister’s son in taking his mother’s brother’s name, is elevated in 
his susu. This is recognized not only by his susu, but also 
by his cross cousins.^ 

In Manus of the Admiralties, which is patrilineal and 
patrilocal, unit terminology for the female line is coupled 
with a belief that the female line has superior supernatural 
power gained from the family ghosts. The members of this 
group have no ceremonial or formal meeting. They live 
separately scattered. There is little evidence of anything 
but an ideal solidarity, in the Platonic usage of that term. 
Accordingly, if elevation is not the point in Manus, but ex- 
pression of group solidarity, it is a blood kin that does not 
function as a group ever that has secured such recognition. 
On the other hand, there is no such evidence for elevation 
as in Dobu. It would appear to be possible that just as 
personal names, skulls of the dead, land, and other property 
and magic may be inherited in favour of one line of descent 
rather than another, as in Dobu, supernatural power in Manus 
and physiological theory may be divided so as to favour now 
one line, now the other, as in the Trobriands as has been ably 
shown by Dr. B. Malinowski (a discovery that I can confirm 
by my independent investigation) ; so elevation in relation- 
ship terminology may be cast into the scales for recognition. 
I do not wish to urge that this is true for other parts of the 
world, but only that such a degree of integrated development 
has occurred in Dobu. 

In Dobu a different disregard of generation occurs in 
a terminology used within the circle of village owners. This 
is a purely optional usage, however, and differs in being such 
from the obligatory disregard between cross cousins after the 
death of the father of the one, mother’s brother of the other. 
A lad sometimes calls his mother’s mother’s brother tasina 
brother, a girl sometimes calls her mother’s mother tasina 
sister. In one case I knew the optional usage was clearly 
shown. When the mother’s mother’s brother began teaching 

* An heir does not have to marry his predecessor’s widow in order to 
secure ascendant generation kinship terminology from the widow’s children. 
Inheritence of a name may be closer identification than inheritance of a mere 

Terminology of Relationship 41 

the boy magic the term changed from tubuna to tasina. 
Formality with a second ascendant generation person who 
is a village Owner is expressed by tubuna — all three grand- 
parents and their brothers and sisters who are not village 
Owners are nothing else than tubuna possibly. Here it is 
possible and necessary to infer an expression of solidarity 
within the clan, but only between grandparents and grand- 
children who are bonded also by common village allegiance. 

Looking at these terms from another point of view we see 
that the terms used for younger generations flow from the 
terms used for the first ascending generation (before the death 
of the father). 

First Ascending Generation 
Tamana . Man, owner in father’s village. 

Man, marrying into mother’s village. 

Sinana . Woman, owner in mother’s village. 

Woman, marrying into father’s village. 

Wana . Man, owner in mother’s village. 

Man, marrying into father’s village. 

Yaiana (kedeana) Woman, owner in father’s village. 

Woman, marrying into mother’s village. 

These terms specify ascendant generation and sex of person 
spoken of or to. They do not distinguish between owners 
in one parents’ village and those-resulting-from-marriage in 
the other parent’s village. These two classes are “ lumped 
In ego’s generation — 

Tasina . . . Sibling of same sex as the speaker being a child of 

tamana and sinana. 

Person of opposite sex who has married a child of 
tamana or sinana. 

Nuuna . Sibling of opposite sex from the speaker being child of 

tamana and sinana. 

Nibana . . . Children of vjana and kedeana. 

These terms specify ego’s generation. The sex of both 
person speaking and person spoken to is obscure from the 
terminology as such, i.e. since the terms flow from the ascendant 
generation primarily they do not retain further specific indication 
of sex in their own right. They distinguish children of tamana 
and sinana from children of wana and kedeana. They do 
not, it may be observed, distinguish children of the susu from 
children outside the susu. Nuuna may be the child of true 
father’s brother, i.e. of a male owner of father’s generation 
in father’s village, possibly of a remotely related susu to the 
susu of the father. Or nuuna may be the child of the opposite 
sex from one’s own mother’s womb. Similarly in the first 
ascendant generation sinana may be one’s own mother, or 
a woman of another village altogether, married to a male owner 

42 Social Organization 

of father’s generation in father’s village possibly of a sum 
remotely related to the susu of the father. 

In the first descending generation we find — 

Natuna . . Child of tasina (m.s. and w.s.). 

Child of male mhana (m.s.). 

Child of female nibana (w.s.). 

Yaiyana (Kedeana) . Child of nuuna (w.s.). 

Child of male nibana (w.s.). 

Wana . . . Child of nuuna (m.s.). 

Child of female nibana (m.s.). 

The latter two terms are reciprocal. The reciprocal of 
natuna is sinana to a woman, tamana to a man. Here the 
children of nibana are treated as are the children of tasina 
and nuuna — exactly. The sex of the person spoken to is 
again obscure. Only in the first ascendant generation is it 
clear. Some of the children called natuna and wana are in 
the speaker’s susu, some are of other susu of the speaker’s 
village, some are of the speaker’s father’s village, some again 
are of the villages the speaker’s father’s sons have married into. 

The first ascending and first descending generation are 
reciprocally tubuna to each other. 

It will be apparent that we have here a simple bilateral 
system of reckoning relationship. There are not special 
terms to demarcate the line of susu descent from other lines 
outside the susu. Persons marrying into the father’s village 
acquire the terminology proper to owners in mother’s village, 
and vice-versa, and the terms applied to later generations 
flow from this terminology used for the first ascendant 
generation. The child of a brother and child of a sister 
use a special term to each other, where children of brothers 
do not, and children of sisters do not. But the child of a 
man drops this distinction in speaking to the child of the child 
of his father’s sister provided his father is not dead. 

After the death of the father the terminology is applied 
to express the distinction between the non-inheriting line 
of descent and the inheriting line by an especial warping. 
The terms used specify generation more clearly than they 
specify anything else as used before the death of the father. 
The terms used in the warping bear the same relationship 
to one another as they do in the unwarped system, kedeana’s 
husband is still wana, her child still nibana and so throughout. 
Here in this warping is an effective adaptation of a bilateral 
terminology to the unilateral stress, the casting of a system 
not suited to unilateral stress into the form of that stress. 

Functioning of the System 43 

In the following sections I continue to discuss kinship 
in terms of its functioning. This treatment demands more 
space than a purely formal statement. Consequently certain 
terms that imply distant relationship and that mark off degrees 
of distance within the system are not raised until Sections 
VI and VII. 


Functioning of the System 

We have already seen that Dobuan relationship hinges 
upon a conflict between the susu and the marital grouping 
in regard to inheritance and in their clash of incompatible 
solidarities. Husband and wife belong to different villages. 
The village makes its own solidarity by sharing in a common 
inheritance and by all its constituent susu pooling their wealth 
to help the economic affairs of any one susu. Marriage is 
created and sustained by economic exchanges between two 
contracting villages. Hence if a member of any one village 
is to marry any member of another village, if a man x is to 
marry a woman y, x is dependent on all the susu of his village 
for help in providing the heavy economic burden he must 
bear, and y is dependent on all the susu of her village for help 
in providing the heavy exchange burden that she must bear. 
By virtue of the village having paid for a marriage the village 
exercises a controlling interest in the marriage. People who 
are outside a marriage do not consider that it is not their business 
to interfere. On the contrary they have a right to interfere. 
Did they not pay for the marriage ? Hence a marriage must 
keep the approval of two villages to endure. Village solidarity 
further is expressed in the belief that disease and death amongst 
its constituent susu are not caused by its various susu members 
but by persons of other village allegiance, particularly persons 
with whom the village is connected by marriage — strangers 
introduced into the village or their kin in other villages. Village 
members are friends. Other villages are not to be trusted, 
although they must be married into. 

In all the elements that make up village solidarity there is 
a disruptive element for marital solidarity ; a father can leave 
little to his children, a man is partly dependent on his village’s 
toleration of his wife, a wife is partly dependent on her village’s 

44 Social Organization 

toleration of her husband, and trust of village mates is the 
obverse of distrust of mates from other villages (the former 
“ mates ” being brother-sister or tasina and nuuna, the latter 
mates being husband and wife). 

This last fact comes into relief when a man speaks of a 
divorced wife as Alo did to me of his divorced wife Bobo. 
“ Every morning I awakened weak in body, sometimes ill. 
She had been engaging in witchcraft while I lay asleep. Her 
witch double had crossed over my body as I lay asleep, going 
out the doorway and away through the air on its witch errands. 
Did I believe that she lay within my hut beside me ? But there 
was only the empty skin of her beside me. She, the essential 
she, was off and far away. So it came, my weakness, my 
infirmity. I divorced her. Emu (one of Alo’s village ‘ sisters ’, 
descendant from a common great-grandmother) came and sat 
by my side while I was yet married to Bobo. She said ; ‘ In 
a little while let us marry, we two.’ I thought of the witchcraft 
of Bobo, of my morning infirmities. I said: ‘ In a little while 
let it be as you have said.’ ” 

Alo came to live with Emu. It was against the Dobuan 
code — marriage within the village. Alo’s brothers and kin 
not only refused to sanction it, but two of his blood brothers, 
both younger than he, deserted the village in anger. They 
lived away for a few months. Alo ultimately bribed them into 
coming back and not protesting further. The marriage was 
accorded no economic validation as Alo’s kin could not be asked 
for help, and anyway Emu had no true kin surviving. 

Bobo several times sounded a challenge on a shell trumpet 
from her village a quarter of a mile away. Each time Emu and 
a village “ sister ” or two answered the insulting summons. 
They set out for Bobo’s village. There a duel with throwing 
of big stones and close quarter attack with large knives ensued 
between the principals, Bobo and Emu. The men did not 
interfere until blood was drawn. Then they stopped the fight, 
aided by the fact that the formidable principals were feeling 
more satisfied. Wounds comparable to those of a severe 
German students’ duel were inflicted first. I was lured in 
another direction before I realised the situation. Another 
time I was away overseas getting my stores and mails. The 
feud began before I came to the area. 

In this series of events we see a further dramatization of 
the frequent refrain in the folk-lore. A man commits incest 
with his village “ sister ”, and makes trouble between himself 

Functioning of the System 45 

and his wife, or trouble between her and her husband, and that 
with impunity, since he enlists all the forces of village solidarity 
against marriage solidarity. In this case village solidarity was 
itself somewhat shaken since the affair deepened into incestuous 
marriage. But for an incestuous episode merely, the injured 
husband or injured wife can look for no breach in village 
solidarity if he or she objects publicly. Such objection often 
means divorce. 

Some two weeks after one of the Bobo-Emu duels, Bobo 
had recovered from her wound. It had healed cleanly. But 
she fell ill of a wasting disease, until she was mere bone with 
skin folded loosely over it, unable to eat or even to speak. 
The island expected her death any minute. I dosed her with 
chlorodyne when I discovered her condition, and she pulled 
up and recovered on a rice and jam diet. Meanwhile I said 
to my personal boys within my own house : “ But who has 
bewitched Bobo ? Recently she fought with Emu.” 
Immediately my boys were viciously corrective of me with the 
heaviest disapproval they ever showed me. “ What if Alo 
(Emu’s husband) were to hear this ? He would never speak 
to you again. Do you want to lose your main helper ? That 
is the thing that is never done — to katoawerebana, talk specifically 
of witchcraft and infer the witch. Haven’t you any sense ? ” 

In point of fact a diviner was called in from sixteen miles 
away. He divined the name of the witch who was responsible 
for Bobo’s serious condition, and left the island immediately 
for his overseas home, without making the result of the divining 
public. Privately he gave the result to Bobo’s own mother. 
The diviner, supported by his prestige, himself acted most 
cautiously. My personal boys knew that I, like a fool, was 
rushing in without any power of divination by magic where 
a diviner himself feared to tread. 

It is a most serious insult to refer to a woman’s witchcraft 
so that her husband will hear of it. Of women of other villages 
with whom and with whose husbands one is not involved in 
personal relationships, statements of their witchcraft run 
freely. But no nearer home than that. 

Even in cases where the diviner acts more bravely than in 
the Bobo case, divines his witch and beards her, charging her 
with it, it is gross insult for any person to refer to the event 
afterwards so that the woman’s husband will hear of the 

The insult is only the more serious because it refers to a 

46 Social Organization 

matter the husband does not believe to be untrue. It touches 
him on a nervous spot as is seen in Alo’s account of his married 
life with Bobo. Persons of other villages are freely whispered 
to be witches in confidences between the owners of the village, 
until one owner marries into the family of such notorious 
wijch-women. Then the confidences must cease. The whole 
affective feeling connected with such facts remain. But to 
stir it up is deep insult. 

Togo was the greatest wastrel in the island of Tewara. 
He had been brought there from Kelologea of northern 
Normanby Island, an orphan, and in Tewara fifty miles overseas 
he was adopted. He was taken into the local village of the 
White Pigeon clan. 

In Tewara he proved to be an unfortunate acquisition. 
I knew him as a beetle-browed small man, inordinately lazy 
and quarrelsome, of lower than average intelligence, and without 
enough pride to hide his flinching at bodily pain when 
I doctored a leg-sore with bluestone. He iflust have been 
over thirty years of age. Four wives had left him. His fifth 
wife, He, was a handsome woman, younger than he, of fine 
light skin colour. Her mother’s brother was Alo, head man of 
Kubwagai village and easily the most outstanding man of the 
four villages of Tewara. 

The couple, Togo and He, lived alternate years in the White 
Pigeon village of Togo’s adopted susu kin, and in Kubwagai, 
the Green Parrot village of He’s stisu kin. 

When I knew the pair they were living in Kubwagai village 
of the Green Parrot folk. {This was also my village. There 
I had been given the land and the personal name of a Green 
Parrot man of an earlier generation who had died v/ithout any 
sister’s children as heirs. One of the children, a woman, lived 
in another village, her mother’s. She could not come into the 
Green Parrot village of her dead father. When I met her afield 
she called me “ my father ”, I called her “ my child ”, as I 
had succeeded to her father’s estate. In this I behaved to her 
and she to me as is the custom between the child of the dead 
and the heir of the dead, although I was not the ordinary heir, 
the dead sister’s son.) 

At the time of my residence in Kubwagai, He was tired of 
her marriage to Togo. Togo became aware of this and resorted 
to desperate tactics to try to keep her. In private he threatened 
that if He left him he would kill her blood brother, Kinosi, 
by sorcery. He immediately told her mother’s brother, Aloi 

Functioning of the System 47 

of the threat. Her brother, Kinosi, was away at the time. 
Adjoining AIo’s house was the house of Magile, an owner of 
village land and trees, where she lived with her husband Yogalu 
and her six children. Her eldest child was named Kinosi. 
He was not He’s blood brother, only a lad of the same name. 
He cooked my food, cleaned my hut, and did my errands. 
Associated with Kinosi in this work was ’Inosi, AIo’s cross- 
cousin, who had come from his far removed village to work 
for me in Kubwagai. 

Magile overheard He’s alarm. Village huts are close 
together and sound travels as easily as between close packed 
tables in a public restaurant. Kinosi and ’Inosi, my personal 
“ boys ”, came to me pale with fear. Magile had not heard 
aright and the rumour had travelled falsely. They informed me 
that Togo was plotting to kill them by sorcery. I had a very 
difficult situation to meet. ’Inosi was determined to flee to 
Sanaroa, an island twelve miles away, immediately, and 
threatened, intermittently with his expression of panic, to put 
an end to Togo by his own sorcery. Kinosi was too terrified 
for constructive planning. ’Inosi stated that Togo was 
responsible for the deaths of his brother’s wife’s brothers. 
Everyone believed that Togo by sorcery or by poisoning them 
had killed them in quick succession. It was fully two hours 
before an unnatural whiteness of the two dark-skinned faces 
passed, they crouching within my hut the while. Finally 
they were relieved by learning that it was another Kinosi that 
was being threatened. 

That evening Alo with He beside him lectured Togo in 
a sharp harangue of the short half spitting sentences with a 
good pause in between them that is usual on such occasions. 
The village kin sat in a circle about Alo without speaking. 
Yogalu, who was also of the White Pigeon village, and 
Togo’s kinsman, stayed apart looking respectful and almost 
demonstratively unobtrusive. Togo listened without speaking, 
and without being seen or heard left the village in fear that the 
well considered biting lecture on his laziness, his unfair treat- 
ment of He, his lack of co-operation in village work, his bad 
gardening, and his inimical attitude towards the clan he had 
married into might turn suddenly into violence. Alo felt 
violent for the clear reason that bringing a man to book in 
a society where sorcery flourishes is playing with the most 
dangerous fire. But Alo as headman and most accomplished 
sorcerer in the place was more above fear than anyone, and his 


Social Organization 


biting lecturing of delinquents took place several times during 
my stay in his village. A few days later Togo was back again 
from the White Pigeon village to He. But He was often to be 
seen with her mother’s brother, Alo, with complaint against 
her husband Togo. Finally Togo struck her within their hut. 
Instantly she was with Alo and her village kin, and before any 
words could pass Togo was off in full flight to the White Pigeon 

The next phase was some three weeks later. Togo was 
back in He’s house in Kubwagai. He was out talking quietly 
with her kin. ’Inosi heard rattling noises in the night in He’s 
house and cut Togo down before he had had time to kill himself 
by hanging. He lived with him thereafter, but deceiving 
him, for Alo had ruled that when the canoes went north shortly 
He was to be taken away to stay with relatives in the Amphlett 
Islands overseas. Togo was not informed of this plan. 

Sago making for the canoes to carry on an extended northern 
trip went on apace, every man, woman, and child, except the 
oldest and infirm people, working from dawn to dusk and 
sleeping beside their work under rough improvised shelters 
by the foul sago swamp. Togo, however, did no work. The 
sago was brought home with two nights of dancing. Some of 
it was used in a feast in which Green Parrot and White Pigeon 
exchanged gifts of cooked food to celebrate the growth of a 
child of a White Pigeon woman by a Green Parrot father, Alo’s 
brother. Togo took part in the feasting. 

Then the canoes were filled with sago and the party of 
men set out for the north. Alo embarked He in his canoe. 
Togo alone of the men of the island was left at home with the 
women, a wastrel without his supply of sago for the trip. 
Suddenly realizing that He was missing he rushed to the shore 
as the canoes were about a hundred yards out to sea. There 
he set up the wail for the dead. Alo, unable to stand the 
spectacle, and a little afraid that Togo might be more of a 
nuisance as a suicide than he was living, contemptuously told 
He to swim back to shore. She swam. 

The relationship of Alo to He and of He to Togo is one that 
throws into relief the major forces in Dobuan social organization. 
The mother’s brother rules and directs, his nephew or his 
niece obeys. A husband seriously angry with his wife will 
insult or threaten her relatives. She will inform her relatives, 
her mother’s brother or her brother immediately. Her kin 
as a united body will then intimidate her husband. The 

Functioning of the System 49 

husband’s claim on his wife then is lost unless he asserts it 
by attempted suicide, when he awakens pity and contempt 
in her kin. They tell her to stand by him lest he kill himself. 
She, on her part, does what her elders and kinsmen tell her to 
do, even although she does not care greatly if her husband 
kills himself or no, and in fact might prefer it did he succeed 
in his suicide. Her kinsfolk are motivated by the consideration 
of preserving good relations with the kin and the village of the 
would-be suicide, who will not blame the suicide, but the 
suicide’s relatives-in-Iaw. 

A woman in He’s case often commits adulterous incest 
with a village brother of more removed relationship. The 
reaction of the husband to such action by his wife is always 
predictable. He packs up his belongings and leaves. It is 
the only final way of getting rid of him. He cannot, by native 
ideas of morality, live with his wife any longer. In the old 
days he might try to spear his wife’s incestuous seducer. If 
he succeeded he began a feud between himself and his kin 
on the one hand and the kin of his former wife and the kin of 
his wife’s village seducer on the other. More often the husband 
just left without violence. He had his wife’s banded village 
to contend against ; for the entire village of his wife support 
both her and her “ brother ” in incest — as long as it is incest 
between fairly well removed relatives, and not marriage. I did 
not see He’s marriage proceed to this stage. There is a regular 
thrust and parry procedure, however. The person wishing 
to maintain the marriage against the person wishing to dissolve 
it usually attempts suicide, usually fails to make it fatal, usually 
awakens pity and a contemptuous maintenance of the marriage. 
The person wishing to dissolve it may rely on village “ incest ” 
to break it up finally. 

I saw more of the process in the case of Sina and loni. 
Toni, the man, was informed by his kin of secret advances made 
to Sina by a village “ brother ” of hers. No more was proved 
than that the “ brother ” was soliciting “ incest ”. There was 
no proof that SinaTiad courted it. She did not tell Toni of 
the advances, however. No Dobuan woman will tell her 
husband of such a matter. In consequence, if the husband 
discovers anything, he always blames his wife for it, and he 
always suspects that the affair has gone to the limit. Toni 
cast the slur upon Sina which cannot be cast without carrying 
definite intention of desire for divorce with it. He said in fury : 
“ Go, slut ; go copulate with the bush boars.” Sina reacted 

50 Social Organization 

as every proud Dobuan woman must under such insult. She 
took the strongest vegetable poison known to the Dobuans, 
the root of a species of derris, which is used to stun fish. It 
does not kill in the great majority of cases, although in some 
cases it does. Toni had followed Sina to the bush where she 
had fled. The village came hue and cry after Toni, caught 
him just as he was in the act of swallowing derris root also, 
dashed it from his hands, overpowered him, and watched him 
all that night. 

I gave an emetic to Sina and got the poison out of her. 
The native emetics had been tried previously and had failed 
miserably. As she lay groaning in her hut that night I was 
summoned out again at about two a.m. Toni, despite his 
watchers, had succeeded in swallowing some root or other, 
not derris root but another. It did him no harm actually, 
probably being one of the many roots which are currently 
believed to be poisonous in Dobu, but which are really not so. 
I had given my last supply of emetics to Sina, so Toni got 
nothing but strong tea. 

Two days after, the pair were together again. Their 
relatives stressed the need of it, lest one or the other attempt 
suicide again. Sina’s father had died by self-inflicted derris 
poisoning before her. 

A third case of serious marital disagreement that I saw was 
between Nela and Kopu. This happened in Kubwagai as did 
also the case of Togo and He. Nela was Magile’s eldest daughter 
by her first husband, whom Yogalu, her present husband, 
had killed. One day when Kopu was away fishing, Nela had 
her hair cut in the village by ’Inosi, Alo’s cross-cousin and my 
“ boy ” (my sister’s son by native terminology inasmuch as 
he worked in my service as a native lad does for his mother’s 
brother, the only relative who has him to command). Now the 
care of the hair is a reciprocal service between husband and wife. 
It is closely connected with intercourse. An adulterer will 
louse or cut the hair of the woman he has committed adultery 
with if he wishes to make the matter public and defy the 
woman’s husband. Nela evidently wished to make trouble 
for Kopu. Kopu came home, went into a rage, but hardly 
earlier than Yogalu, Nela’s foster father. The first indication 
I had of trouble was a raging yell from Yogalu at the top of 
his voice, a shout of penis dripping with semen you ”. Kopu 
retorted with “ I’m done with all of you ”. Yogalu replied 
with “ We’re done with you 

Functioning of the System 51 

Kopu flung out of the village in a rage and home to his own 
village of the Brown Eagle folk. An hour or two later his sister 
appeared in Kubwagai, claimed and took away Kopu’s property. 
After dark Kopu came into my hut and sulked in a corner for 
hours while I wrote. Finally he expressed a wish that a white 
man’s schooner would drop anchor. He would go to work 
for the white man far away. He went home to his Brown 
Eagle village. The two brothers of Nela who had been watching 
for Kopu’s departure then came in, and expressed a wish to 
go away to work for the white man immediately. Their sister 
had lost her man. They would now have to work in her garden, 
and already they were weary from too much gardening. Had 
I been a recruiter of native labour here were offers worth pounds 
to me. Naturally I declined to have anything to do with 
making money from the situation, as they thought I might do. 
Later on Kopu came back to Nela. 

Sati was a strong, aggressive widow of Dilikaiai, the White 
Pigeon village. During my stay in Kubwagai, Kisi, Alo’s 
younger brother, made advances to Sati. Children observed, 
and reported that he had been seen going to Sati’s garden. 
That meant adultery necessarily. Kisi’s wife ran away from 
him. Alo took her side strongly, as he had a great dislike of 
Sati. Indeed, there could be little doubt that Kisi’s wife was 
the better stamp of woman. Alo gave a sharp public harangue 
against Kisi. Sati shortly after appeared in Kubwagai in a 
state of offended majesty and aggressive purity. But she was 
worsted. Kisi treated his wife like a dog in his initial attitude 
of contempt when she came back. But she stayed. 

To give a fair idea of the state of marriage in Dobu I may 
review in brief survey the entire personnel of one village, the 
owners of the Green Parrot village. During my stay of five 
months there — 

Alo was newly wedded to Emu, his grandmother’s grand- 
daughter, in defiance of the custom of village exogamy, and 
Emu’s fights with Bobo were still continuing. 

Kadi, Alo’s daughter by Bobo, was living away from Bobo 
and her rightful village, in Alo’s place. 

Kadi’s former husband, Kinosi, was a village owner. The 
two avoided each other meticulously and Kinosi was on the 
most formal terms with Alo. 

Alo’s cross cousin, ’Inosi, although not an owner of the 
village, was there, working for me in conjunction with Kinosi. 
’Inosi was the child of the sister of Alo’s father and had village 


52 Social Organization 

entrance accordingly. ’Inosi was the seducer of Kadi, cause 
of the divorce of Kadi by Kinosi. This divorce was recent. 

He, Alo’s sister’s daughter, nearly disrupted her marriage 
with Togo. 

Nela, half sister of Kinosi, nearly disrupted her marriage 
with Kopu. 

Kisi, Alo’s younger brother, was committing adultery with 
Sati, to the outrage of his wife, who had been a girl adopted 
into his family before he married her. 

lyem, Kinosi’s younger brother, was recently divorced from 
his wife of Sanaroa island, grounds adultery. 

Over against this group of recently troubled marriages 
were those of Yogalu and Magile. Magile had borne nine 
children to Yogalu, one to a former husband. 

Wonoloi, sister of Alo and her husband Pogudu. 

Tawa, brother of Alo and his wife, Mwedi. 

Various young children, among them a bastard, adopted 
by Alo, of no named parentage. 

Of the marriages in the village that of Yogalu and Magile 
had stood for many years, Yogalu having speared Magile’s 
first husband to obtain her. Kopu had committed adultery 
with Emu long before, when she was someone else’s wife. 
A child had detected him and informed Emu’s husband. The 
husband went after Kopu with a spear. Kopu invited the 
avenger to spear him, thrusting his chest against the spear 
point without flinching. He was spared and left the island to 
work a long term of years for the white man, returning after 
Emu’s husband’s death. He married Nela, but had been 
married to three other women in intermittent spells between 
leaving Nela and returning to her. 

Kisi and Togo were in trouble during my stay, as well 
as Kopu. It will be apparent from the condition of Kubwagai, 
how troubled Dobuan marriage is. I found the same type 
of record in other villages that I did not come to know as well, 
but well enough to be sure of my ground of comparison. 

The firmer marriages were between Yogalu and Magile, 
Tawa and Mwedi, Pogudu and Wonoloi. Yogalu and Mwedi 
were both without true kin in the island, having married in, 
and having left their homes nearly fifty miles away. They 
alone had no blood kin to interfere in their marriages. Pogudu 
was a low grade moron and Wonoloi, his wife, undesirable and 
covered with ringworm. 

We have now reviewed the conflict of marital and kin 

Functioning of the System 53 

ties. We have seen how marriage itself is validated by villages 
in susu formation. We have seen how little totemic affiliation 
counts and how strongly the village operates as the unit. We 
have seen how the relationship terminology is recast from a 
simple bilateral system to express the conflict between susu 
and marital grouping. In this section we have seen a little 
more of the mechanisms by which kin solidarity trenches upon 
marital solidarity. In all we have dealt with the greater trends 
in Dobuan social organization. We may now move to an 
examination of the rarer and exceptional subversions of the 
system, and also to further concrete material which will 
document the general system as well as its occasional subversions. 

It must be realized that the system as a whole has little 
organization for the prevention or punishment of offences 
against it. Boundary man, for example, does not eat of the 
fruits of his dead father’s village because his father’s sister’s 
son who inherits protects his exclusive rights to his inheritance 
jealously. “ The heir will arise and kill boundary man by 
sorcery if boundary man offends ” say the natives. The heir 
will be supported by his village kin. In fact, boundary man 
does not attempt to usurp his cross-cousin owner’s inheritance. 
Feeling about property runs too strongly. Similarly a man 
does not beat his vrife when he is living in her village unless 
he wants to be drummed out of the village. 

Where feeling does not run as strongly, however, offenders 
can offend and “ get away with it If the offence is not 
serious enough for the offended person or the offended village 
to take up sorcery with intent to kill the offender, or to drum 
the offender out of the village with threat and insult, the only 
means left to the offended is to talk scornfully in public of the 
offender. This is enough to restrain most individuals. But 
some desperate and hard-skinned persons prefer public scorn 
and ridicule to putting up with inconvenient irks of the system. 
They bear scorn and ridicule, and finally the scomers become 
weary of scorning and the wicked have rest — rest in established 
non-conformity. Again there are neat evasions of the spirit 
of the system which preserve the letter of the law without too 
great discomfort. 

Towards insane persons and delinquents public opinion 
is most lenient. Or at least there is no machinery for dealing 
with such persons, and they are well treated. I knew one 
mildly insane man who often patted women on the back or 
head playfully — women whom he would not have laid a finger 

54 Social Organization 

on in public had he been normal. It is scandalous conduct 
for a man to touch his wife or his sister in public or any other 
woman except only his father’s sister, whom he is allowed to 
treat playfully. Women treated so dealt with the man under 
discussion kindly and well, humouring him and talking his 
attention othersvhere with good neighbourliness. The most 
abnormal symptom he showed was a pathological love of work 
for its own sake. He would work for anyone who commanded 
him to do it quite irrespective of whether they recompensed 
him or not, and without refusal to do anything, however difficult. 
It did not matter whether those wanting him to do work for 
them were his relatives or non-related persons. This 
characteristic of his was well known to everyone. Yet hardly 
anyone took advantage of it. When. I wanted an errand done 
my personal boy would sometimes select the mad worker to 
do it and command peremptorarily in tones he would never 
use elsewhere ; but he knew that I paid well, the mad worker 
as well as anyone else, and felt justified. Little advantage 
was taken of the mad worker. Everyone agreed that he was a 
good fellow — his form of madness made him a very good 
fellow. But it was felt that he had enough to bear, since of 
his own volition he would paddle a canoe for hours going right 
before a strong wind which, had he hoisted sail, would have 
carried him faster even than his strong unwearied paddling. 
Always he preferred to paddle for miles, whether the wind was 
with him or not. Then often he would fish all night long, 
unwearied, persistent, long after all the others had gone to sleep. 
He had no fear of the supernaturals of the night. The desire 
to work had him in its clutches. Nothing else mattered. 

Men that run amuck and often nearly kill victims are not killed 
as in Malaya. Shouts go ahead of the runner and every one 
hides in the bush. The man amuck recovers from his frenzy 
later, but since he is not killed when he is out to kill he remains 
a potential danger at all times. Everyone shouted to me to 
drop a shot gun I took up once when yells and running showed 
me that a danger of some character, I did not know what, 
was upon the village. I dropped it because there was no time 
to load, more than because I was convinced there was no need 
of it. And the man amuck was right upon me with a spear 
before I had more time than to drop the shot-gun, get a cane, 
and emerge from my hut to see what was the matter. There 
just outside was my man foaming at the mouth, wth con- 
torted features, body glistening with perspiration, and spear 

Functioning of the System 55 

brandished above his shoulder. All the rest of the village, 
themselves scattered deep in the bush, had shouted to me 
“ drop the gun, drop the gun. He’ll be all right again 
to-morrow ”. It is typical of their good treatment of abnormals 
that they should extend it even to dangerous abnormals. In 
this case the village did not consider me in their mad scurry. 
But after all there was no reason why they should. I was 
a stranger amongst them. And as it turned out I emerged 
unscathed. The man amuck was my own interpreter and 
he did not strike, though he stuffed earth into his mouth in horrid 
pantomine of eating me, still foaming, writhing, and threatening 
me as I trussed him up with rope after he was disarmed. 
He was not Dobuan, but my interpreter from Dobuan into 
a related language. The attitude towards his abnormality, 
properly speaking, belonged to his own people. Nevertheless 
I had Dobuans with me ; they amongst the others shouted 
back to me, and they told me afterwards that all Dobuans 
behave as I had seen for myself. My interpreter’s sister, 
an old woman, alone had not fled, was not over-intimidated 
by her brother, and came to help me to disarm him boldly 
as soon as she perceived my situation tete d tete with him, 
I looking him in the eyes and wondering what would happen 
next. She came up from behind unnoticed by him and gripped 
the end of the spear poised behind him. Next day he was 
at work interpreting, quite oblivious of where he’d been the 
day before or what had happened except that he had felt strange 
on coming to from something, he could not remember what. No 
one told him anything that would have made him uncomfortable. 

Negwadi was also an abnormal. She only made a pretence 
at gardening, making a garden about ten feet square, the size 
a child of seven or eight years makes when its parents help 
it, show it how to plant and encourage it to work a toy-sized 
plot. She never had any stored-up food, although she was 
a heavy eater. She lived from day to day, from hand to mouth 
— by stealing. “ Is there a fine bunch of bananas ready ripe 
that we have planned to cut down to-morrow morning ? We 
go to cut. Negwadi has been there before us. We come 
back empty handed. Is there a paw-paw ripening on our 
land ? We go to get it. The tree stands stripped. Negwadi 
has been there. Is there a nest where our hens lay ? If we 
arise at dawn and wait for the day’s egg or two we get it sooner 
or later. But if we go about our gardening has Negwadi 
any gardening of her own ? Is there a tree of our owning 

56 Social Organization 

with oranges coming or a shrub with pineapples ? We look 
to pluck the fruit shortly. But Negwadi knows our trees 
as well as we know them.” 

All this was said with a twinkle in the eye of my informant. 
What was the use of threatening Negwadi ? What was the 
use of pouring scorn upon her for a thief ? She would not 
care. She could not be controlled by those who controlled the 
elemental forces — thunder, rain, wind, plant growth, disease 
and death. No magic of control controlled Negwadi. She 
was positively more out of hand than anything known to a 
Dobuan. She was cursed continually, but people had given 
up cursing her to her face. It was useless. So a sense of 
humour, thoroughly exiled from great departments of life 
by the grand notions of humans being in control of the natural 
elemental forces, flourished at the spectacle of Negwadi with 
whom no one could do anything. 

This tolerant attitude towards pathological delinquents 
is important. It must be remembered when we deal with 
subversions of the social organization. The Dobuans are 
either remarkably acidulous and intolerant, or else they are 
remarkably tolerant. They never have engaged in fighting 
except with spears. European sports such as boxing and 
wrestling they will not accept. So also they will use sorcery 
against an offender, or drum him out of the village, or pour 
scorn and ridicule upon him. But they are not good at 
scorning and ridiculing. They prefer to be infernally nasty 
or else not nasty at all. Even when they are engaged in a 
plot to kill a person by sorcery they studiously cultivate the 
person ; by a show of friendship they better their opportunity, 
and help to remove later suspicion. When friendliness 
(apparently) often covers treachery it is ill to be too offensively 
unfriendly, unless one intends defiance to the utmost. It is 
apt to be interpreted that way, even if one does not intend it. 
So although scornful remarks are passed they are not passed 
over freely. They are inhibited considerably by fear of anger 
flaring up to the heat which kindles sorcery. Offenders 
against the social code provoke scorn and ridicule but they 
live it down aided by the offended persons’ fear of going too 
far over an affair that may not be worth too much danger. 
We have seen that a sorcery duel is welcomed if necessary 
m cases of disputed inheritance of wealth or the break up 
of marriages. Here the issues are felt strongly and men act 
outside their ordinary restraints. 

Functioning of the System 57 

Occasionally a widower refuses to submit to mourning 
in his dead wife’s village. He refuses to don the blackened 
mourning neck cord of pandanus fibre, blacken his body, 
eat poor food, refrain from dancing, smiling and possible 
intrigues with other women, and toil the while in his dead 
wife’s kin’s gardens, under a cloud in his dead wife’s village. 
It is a hard ordeal. Nearly all men undergo it. But now 
and then it happens that a man is engaged in an intrigue with 
another woman when his wife dies. Then the ordeal appears 
in its worst aspect — a year’s misery and drudgery. So some 
non-conformists go home to their own village and their freedom 
immediately. The village kin of the dead say : “ There goes 
the man who did not mourn his wife ” whenever they chance 
to meet him. It is felt as a stinging insult, but there are thick- 
skinned individuals. Such a man may have difficulty in 
getting another wife, but probably not much difficulty. 
Unfortunately I did not see the development of a case of a 
wadai, as this class of non-conformists are called. There is 
an equivalent class of women who elope with another man 
before their mourning for their dead husband is over. 

If his children are young the widower invariably goes 
home to his own place after mourning, leaving them in the 
care of their mother’s sisters and brothers, not often seeing 
them again. But if a child is full grown he or she may elect 
to desert his or her village and own dead mother’s kin and 
follow the living father to his place. When the father dies 
such a child becomes boundary man and must go home to 
the mother’s kin. In the interval between mother’s death 
and father’s death the grown child may stay most of the time 
in the father’s place, cultivating his or her own kin by frequent 
visits back. In fact, I know of no case where a youth did 
this. But I found two cases where a grown unmarried girl 
was living with her father in his place after the death of the 
mother or her desertion by the husband. Public opinion 
was quite lenient to these cases, not caring whether the attach- 
ment was in part incestuous or whether it was not. If a 
man was a wadai, however, such a course could hardly occur. 
I never saw any relevant case. 

Again I found one old widower permanently domiciled 
in his dead wife’s place. He had left it after the death of 
his wife, and had stayed away from it duly. But when 
he became old the village of his dead wife now sheltered his 
prolific descendants for three generations below his own. 

58 Social Organization 

His children, grandchildren and great grandchildren were 
a solid majority of the village. In consequence Sibor, now 
very old, was almost father of the village. The village had 
him back, a fair reward for his unusually prolific marriage 
and his hale old age. 

Further there are cases where a youth or a girl contracts 
a union with a girl or a youth of his or her father’s village. 
It is a prohibited marriage. But sometimes the young people 
defy public disapproval, build their house and live together 
as married persons although their villages may refuse to sanction 
or validate the marriage by the usual economic exchanges. 
The young people do not care a rap for the economic validation. 
It is a toll laid on their shoulders that they are only too willing 
to escape. Other people say scornfully : “ He has married 
into his dead father’s village ” or “ She has married into her 
dead father’s village ”, but the young people live down the 
ridicule. In such cases the rule of alternate residence is 
observed. But since one person is boundary man in one 
of the resident villages, the hut of the pair must be built on 
the edge of the village boundary on land belonging to the 
susu of the person whose mother’s place it is, not by any chance 
on land belonging to the dead father of the other party to 
the marriage. Then when the couple spend the year on 
boundary man’s dead father’s village margin, boundary man, 
male or female, must keep to the margin and never enter 
the village he or she spends the year (and every alternate year) 
in or more correctly half in. Again boundary man must 
not eat of food and fruit which is the other spouse’s rightful 
inheritance. He or she must have a separate store. Yams 
are earmarked as they go into the cooking pot, yams edible 
by owner of the village being distinguished from the separate 
store of boundary man. Or else the owner tries to barter 
all his or her store for others’ food. All persons, whether 
in such case or not, refrain from food of their dead father’s 
place or his owning most rigidly — not only as far as true dead 
father is concerned, but observing also the restraints incurred 
by their blood kin for every one of their several fathers. 
I bought the fruit crops of several orange trees from several 
places, took as many as I needed and made a communal free 
cache of the rest for my visitors and personal boys. The 
result was that I saw the tabu on fruit of the father’s place 
and the fathers’ places of blood kin respected rigidly by all 
the owners of the village. Trees from different places were 

Functioning of the System 59 

not ripe at the same time, except once when my personal 
boys insisted on keeping the fruit from the two different sources 

Cases of cross-cousin marriage between boundary man 
and owner are rare, however. They are uncomfortable, 
and no rule is relaxed to make them otherwise. They trench 
on the serious matter of inheritance within the susu, an in- 
heritance defended with sorcery in case of need. In a range 
of approximately forty-five married couples, whose affairs 
I knew, I found six cross-cousin marriages. It was within 
the same range that I had one non-conforming wadai, non- 
mourner of his wife, pointed out to me, that I found two cases 
of grown daughters living in their fathers’ places (in one case 
in her father’s house the two alone together) after the mother’s 
death (in one case), after desertion of her mother in the other 
case and where I found one old man, Sibor, living in his dead 
wife’s place. Within the same range also were found the mad 
worker, and Negwadi, the pathological thief. The man who 
ran amuck was outside this range and in another place. I lived 
with forty of the people known well for five months, and with 
the other hundred and sixty whose social organization I got 
to know for one month subsequent to my first experience 
with the forty. Apart from the man amuck all my cases are 
derived from within this range. It may be assumed in future 
that except where I explicitly state otherwise, I am discussing 
what I found in my six months amongst this same range of 

The six cross-cousin marriages were not significantly 
unevenly distributed, four boundary men being male, the 
two other boundary men being female. Of the six, two male 
boundary men married their true fathers’ sisters’ daughters. 
Two male boundary men married their fathers’ village sisters’ 
(of other stisu) daughters. One female boundary man married 
her father’s village sister’s (of other susu) son, one female 
boundary man married her stepfather’s village sister’s son. 
This distribution shows no rule, as is fitting for heterodox 
and lawless behaviour. 

One of these marriages was new during my stay. Obedaia’s 
marriage to his female cross-cousin, Lisi, of his father’s place 
was not opposed by Obedaia’s village mothers on the grounds 
that he was marrying his cross-cousin, but on the grounds 
that Lisi was a bad gardener and e'ai ’alena, the very root of 
eating, a woman who ate too much and reserved too little 


Social Organization 

seed for planting in consequence. As they expected, they 
found Obedaia hungry more than once and had to feed him 
themselves — a serious insult against a marriage since all 
reputable marriages are supposed to be self-supporting. 
Obedaia and Lisi had no children as yet moreover. In this 
manner feeling in Dobu runs upon more practical lines than 
mere formalism and legality. 

Within the same range there were three pairs of children 
betrothed before puberty by their respective parents in order 
to ensure good economic alliances. One of the three betrothals 
was between children who were cross-cousins. Such betrothal 
is aberrant, but this one case was doubly aberrant in this regard. 
If two cross-cousins make a good economic match legality 
is not much questioned, although boundary man must live 
alternate years on the margin of a village that he or she 
cannot enter. This consideration is not as powerful as 
economic considerations in an area where population presses 
heavily on very poor and scanty land. If Obedaia and Lisi 
had a child there might occur a tragedy such as one hears 
of from here and there in the Dobuan district ; here a man 
in anger puts the baby on the blazing fire to burn to death ; 
there a baby is found deserted in a solitary hut with its wrists 
gnawed to the bone where it had torn at its own flesh in hunger 
and pain. Obedaia and Lisi could not support themselves 
without hunger. What of children ? 

Marriage within the village occurred in three cases within 
my range of observation. In such cases the village normally 
splits, some susu associating with the one of the contracting 
susu with whom they are the closer related, others with the 
other contracting susu. Distance of village house sites from 
one another marks off fairly clearly the distance of genealogical 
relationship of the owners of the sites. Accordingly such 
division is easy except when “ a man stands up and marries 
into the house next door ” i.e. marries a woman very closely 
related to him genealogically, as Alo did. In one village 
where marriage within the village had occurred a row of logs 
across the centre of the village divided it into halves. These 
halves acted to each other with all the forms used between 
separate villages connected by marriage. But in validating the 
marriage of another of their village members who had married 
normally outside the village both halves sank their division 
an ^ wor ed together, the one for the other’s business and 
reciprocally co-operating and pooling their wealth, instead of 

Functioning of the System 6i 

halving it and exchanging their half’s respective pools, as they 
did when validating the marriage within the village. 

I heard of one case of son-mother incest outside my range 
of true knowledge. It is regarded as contamination, as 
father- daughter incest, or child and father’s sister incest is 
not so seriously regarded. But greatest of all crimes, outrage 
of all outrages against the social system, is adultery between 
a man and his mother’s brother’s wife or a man and his sister’s 
son’s wife. Son-mother incest, after the father’s death, is 
not interfered with actively. It is a private sin, not a public 
attack on the social system. Blood brother interfering with 
blood brother’s wife, or blood brother blood sister incest 
I did not hear of. But I heard of two cases of trouble between 
sister’s son and mother’s brother over their wives. Here 
the susu, bulwark of Dobuan life, is rent, with difference in 
generation to make the matter worse. The mother’s brother 
is guardian of the sister’s son, his heir and ward. I heard 
of one such trouble in each group I was in — one historical 
case in Tewara Island, one more recent case in my Eduagaura 
locality of Dobu Island. 

In Tewara a man committed adultery with his own sister’s 
son’s wife. His sister’s son heard of it. He sought out his 
own mother’s brother and drove a spear through his body 
killing him on the spot. The killer’s mother sought out her 
village brothers and committed her own son to their vengeance 
urging them to take his blood for their and her brother’s blood. 
His mother’s village brothers so encouraged by their sister, 
his mother, pursued him through the island and into the 
sea at the straits of Gadimotu. There they hurled spears 
at the young man as he fled seawards until a spear thrown 
underwater caught him near the ankle. He collapsed and 
was killed. His mother went into mourning for her brother 
and her son. Then months after when the canoes were beached 
on the small island of Gabuwana many miles from home, 
the young true brothers of the hounded and slain young man 
slew the slayer who had thrown the spear which found its 
mark in their brother’s ankle. They roasted the corpse and 
ate it. Other members of the party which pursued the boy 
trying to kill him took no vengeance on the boy’s brothers 
for killing their brother’s killer. 

So the susu itself may be rent turning mother against son. 
and the village may be rent turning the young of one susu 
against the old of other village susu who did no more than 

62 Social Organization 

perform a mother’s will against her son, the mother being 
their village sister. So, at least, runs the history vividly 
remembered by eyewitnesses, vividly and unmistakably told. 

In Dobu Island a similar affair occurred less tragically, 
and under the eye of white government. A man committed 
adultery with his mother’s brother’s wife while his mother’s 
brother was away at indentured labour. The mother’s 
brother came back and heard of it, but not before his sister’s 
son had left for a long term of indentured labour immediately 
he knew of his mother’s brother’s impending return. The 
elder man threw his wife out with scorn and passion. Several 
years after when the young man came back the elder was 
long remarried to another woman, and no word passed between 
them. Only one boy will say to another quietly and with 
much significance “ I know of a man who slept with his own 
mother’s brother’s wife ”, tvith some awe and even horror 
in the tone. It is still a matter unforgotten. White govern- 
ment and indentured labour sanctuary for native crimes 
has taken much of the sting out of native sanctions. The 
culture tends to bend and weaken in action, but it still holds 
fast to its own ideas of right and wrong. 

In the Tewara case we see exposed the strength of the 
brother-sister bond. A Dobuan tends to think of his sister 
first of all his ties when the question of breaking ties arises. 
Dobu practices the avunculate, inheritance from mother’s 
brother to sister’s son, but this is from no great sentiment 
between a man and his sister’s son. Rather the sister enlists 
the brother in the interests of her children. Strength of 
sentiment obtains between brother and sister ; and if a man 
punishes his sister’s children over-severely it is his sister that 
expresses a sense as of a personal outrage upon her. In a 
village where a man has beaten his wards, their attitude is 
comparatively stoical. They may cry a little, but long after 
their crying has ceased one hears their mother w'ailing the 
the lament that is otherwise only wailed over the dead. 


Use of Personal Names 

The general relationship term used between all the members 
of two villages, one member of which is betrothed or married 

Use of Personal Names 63 

to one member of the other, is eyena. As soon as betrothal 
is announced the people of one village begin to collect gifts 
to give to their eyenao^ the people of the other village. At 
the same time all use of personal names between those now 
eyenao is discontinued. Not only does the engaged youth 
avoid the personal names of the persons of his future wife’s 
village, but all his village enter into the same restriction, which 
is reciprocated towards them except that the youth himself 
alone may be named by the elder generations of the village of 
his fiancee, and the girl herself alone may be named by the 
elder generation of her groom’s village. 

The mother-in-law not only names her son-in-law freely, 
where she' and all her village kin name none of his village 
kin, and where he cannot name her, but she has parallel 
privileges over him. For example, she may bleed him in 
a case of limb swelling. The wife and her brother hold the 
man firmly. The mother-in-law takes obsidian, and cuts 
a deep gash down the swollen limb. She then inserts the 
obsidian into the same now bleeding gash and cuts into it 
deeper again, the son-in-law usually writhing convulsively 
by this time, but firmly held. Sons-in-law are not allowed 
to hold or bleed their mothers-in-law in this fashion. Similarly 
the mother-in-law usually supervises the son-in-law’s toils 
if he becomes a widower. Throughout the marriage she 
exerts a real if tempered dominance over him. 

We have seen that in the spouse’s village One-resulting- 
from-marriage can use no personal names except to his or 
her own children. Those-resulting-from-marriage cannot use 
one another’s names. The relationship term signifying 
“ married into the same place as I have married into ” is 
lamusiana. That term may be used in such cases, or altern- 
atively gosiana, friend. 

One spouse does not use the personal name of the other. 
The term for spouse is mwanena. 

Although a mother-in-law names a child-in-law, a brother- 
in-law does not name a brother or sister-in-law. Within 
the same generation the restriction on personal names is 

A child may name its father, but it is not done frequently. 
A child objects also to naming its mother’s brother. The 
child often describes its father as “ bad ”, or “ harsh ”. The 
mother’s brother is “ harsh in the extreme ”. Both father 
* Plural form of eyena. 

64 Social Organization 

and mother’s brother enforce discipline on children, but the 
mother’s brother particularly. If children offend it is 
customary to beat them and take no notice of their crying. 
If a mother beats a child of nine or ten years old, however, 
it usually imitates its father in a passion and smashes its mother’s 
fragile cooking pots. The father does not beat a child arrived 
at this age although he may throw things at one to its hurt. 
The mother does not beat it, as she would lose her cooking 
pots, and the child would run away. If the child does get 
harsh treatment from father or mother however it runs to 
its mother’s sister and her husband. Children call the 
husbands of their mothers’ sisters “ our navels ”. Their 
“ navels ” are never harsh to children. The children can 
use the personal names of their “ navels ” freely, whereas 
the “ navels ” cannot reciprocate. In strictly parallel usage 
the children may eat of their “ navels’ ” food, using also their 
property. Those-resulting-from-marriage are necessarily on 
more or less subservient terms to owners and owners’ children. 
The children can also run away to their fathers’ sisters and 
fathers’ sisters’ husbands. This class of relatives they name 
freely. The free usage in this case is reciprocal. A child 
is on free, even joking terms with its father’s sister. Later 
in life the only woman a man can body-handle in public 
fun is his father’s sister. It is not done often. Only at big 
feasts, or when a pig-hunting expedition comes in with a good 
bag and great excitement prevails a man may often be seen 
clapping a woman on the back, ruffling her hair or embracing 
her. The woman is his father’s sister. A man may also 
refer to his father’s sister’s daughter to her face as a “ grass 
skirt ”. But I never saw any further liberty in this relationship. 

The child usually runs to its “ navels ” to escape from 
its father. The mother’s brother may beat children long 
after its parents have ceased to do so. I saw one case where 
a mother’s brother removed from his village to his wife’s 
village for his alternate year there. His sister with her two 
fifteen or sixteen year old girls and her husband stayed behind 
in her village. The sister’s grown children climbed their 
mother s brother’s coconut palms for coconuts without going 
afield to his wife’s village to ask his permission. He dis- 
covered this and beat them for it severely, as he was saving 
the nuts to trade for tobacco. His sister, the girls’ mother, 
wailed as for the dead for hours after the incident. Here 
we see how the rule of alternate residence may interfere with 

Use of Personal Names 65 

the affairs of one susu, although it is a way of consolidating 
two stisu, each in turn. Again, I knew of a mother’s brother 
who beat a grown married girl, his sister’s daughter, beat 
her with a club, because she had chewed a root intended to 
procure sterility, whereas her mother’s brother wanted a 
male heir of her issue. How serious such beating is in the 
native view can hardly be conveyed. A school has been 
established in Dobu Island by the missionaries. When 
I was in Dobu the native schoolmaster was away serving 
a year in gaol in Samarai. He had caned a schoolboy. The 
schoolboy’s father had come after him with spears. The 
father threw two spears and missed. He then closed in with 
a knife. The schoolmaster clubbed his pupil’s would-be 
avenger with the butt of a musket, felling Wm. He then 
clubbed him again as he lay, killing him. It was for this 
precautionary second stroke that the schoolmaster was doing 
his year’s gaol. But the incident is typical of the native horror 
of corporal punishment. 

Just as the “ navel ” is a refuge from the father, the father’s 
sister and her husband are a child’s refuge from its mother’s 
brother. It will be noted that as the mother-in-law has free- 
dom with her son-in-law and uses his personal name, so also 
the child uses the personal names of its “ navels ” and father’s 
sister’s husbands, where it has freedom, rather than the names 
of those more severe elders, father and mother’s brother. 
It is in later life only that the child appreciates its father and 
its mother’s brother more. This is more true of the mother’s 
brother. Very often the fathers are indulgent from the be- 

A man does not name his mother’s brother’s wife. If 
she survives his mother’s brother, he inherits the property, 
but he usually gives the widow a little of it back, as much 
as he feels disposed to give. His mother’s brother’s widow 
cannot return to his village where her late husband lies buried. 
She cannot touch any of her late husband’s village property, 
but some garden land afield from the village, and a few palms 
in the bush, not in the village, may be given her by the heir. 
The heir can enter her village where she remains a widow, 
her mourning done, if he wishes to do so. When he enters, 
however, he ignores her presence and she ignores his. No 
word or look passes between them. 

In all of these cases of personal name avoidance we may 
notice an expression of distance. The use of the personal 

66 Social Organization 

name means a wholly pleasant relationship for the user. Just 
so we have seen that the susu uses its own personal names 
within itself, names of its susu dead applied to living heirs, 
and forbidden in the mouths of other susu of the village, and 
of Those-resulting-from-marriage including the father. Here 
again we have an expression of nearness of relationship in 
the use of the personal name. The mother’s brother is entitled 
to use a more intimate name to his sister’s child, than the 
personal name used by the father to the same child, used 
by the father in common with members of the other susu of 
the village. 

Parents-in-law can name children-in-law and invite their 
children-in-law to eat side by side with them. A child can 
eat with its elder sister and her husband. When the child 
is adult, however, it cannot go freely at inclination to eat with 
its sister and brother-in-law. It will be recalled that brothers- 
in-law’s names, and sisters-in-law’s names suffer a reciprocal 
restriction in disuse. 

In the previous section on marriage we have already seen 
much of the relationship that develops between two villages 
connected by marriage. The disuse of personal names between 
members of the villages, respectively eyena to each other, 
falls correctly under the explanation of a feeling of distance. 

In Dobu, however, social trends do not fall into clearcut 
exclusive categories. Just as we have seen that susu right 
is beset with opposing exceptions, marriage regulations some- 
times set aside, and, as we shall see later, magic includes elements 
that smack of what is usually termed religious feeling, so the 
disuse of personal names is not invariably an expression of 
distance. It is primarily just this as I have shown ; but the 
idea of foregoing the use of the personal name has run riot 
in Dobu and become incorporated into the expression of 
other social feelings than its primary one. 

Owners of the village, when they are old and the grey 
has come into their hair, avoid each others’ personal names. 
They refer to each other as the father of x (naming the child), 
or the mother of y. 

Again any two persons who have privately shared food 
together, or have given each other magical ritual, or have 
lain the two in close succession with a woman they have been 
co-operating in seducing, or have shared a journey on their 
common errand, avoid each other’s personal names as a token 
of their friendship. It must be a private matter between 

Use of Personal Names 67 

two persons only. In an essentially similar way a youth never 
uses the name of a girl he has lain with in his nightly excursions, 
or she his. I have no evidence that the avoidance of names 
between two persons of the same sex who have shared in a 
private tete a tete affair is homosexual however. It is obviously 
wider than sex. For instance, I had to avoid the personal 
name of the man with whom I went for many days deep into 
the bush to learn magical ritual. We always called each other 
igu esoi, my partner of a day’s private journey. Similarly, 
two men who share cooked sago privately call each other my sago 
sharer, or cooked fish, my fish sharer, or a joint seduction of 
a woman, my sharer in seduction. Persons who contract these 
privately chosen partnerships give each other private gifts 
often. The whole relationship is non-public, non-ceremonial, 
privately contracted friendship. Here the disuse of personal 
names connotes the opposite of distance in feeling. This 
category of disuse disposes of a very large number of relation- 
ships where personal names are not otherwise prohibited. 

In general personal names remain only to be used firstly to 
persons one has a strategic advantage over, as a mother-in-law 
to a son-in-law, a child to his “ navel ”, or a child to his father’s 
sister over whom he holds a joking relationship, and to her 
husband by extension — and secondly by father to child, mother’s 
brother to sister’s child, mother to child, and brother to sister 
where there is a strategic advantage in the first three cases (and 
naming of the elders by the children is not done usually) but 
not in the last case, the brother-sister relationship, which is 
one of reciprocal friendship and exchange of services, as is 
also the father’s sister, brother’s child relationship where naming 
is also reciprocal. 

Linguistically there are three classes of possessive affixes 
which are attached to three classes of nouns according to 
nearness or distance of possession. The suffix gu is used for 
a part of the speaker’s body, a state of his mind, a trait of his 
character, a legitimate relative of his. 'The prefix agu is used 
for an illegitimate relative of the speaker’s, such as his bastard 
child, his name, his magical knowledge, his pubic leaf, and 
food intended for” his eating. The prefix igu is used for the 
speaker’s food which he intends to give to others to eat, his 
house, his canoe, his trees, his fishing and hunting gear, and 
in the case of a woman, for her grass skirt. We see the gradua- 
tion of distance noticeably in the border line cases, legitimate 
and bastard child being on different sides of the first border. 

66 Social Organization 

name means a wholly pleasant relationship for the user. Just 
so we have seen that the susu uses its own personal names 
within itself, names of its susu dead applied to living heirs, 
and forbidden in the mouths of other susu of the village, and 
of Those-resulting-from-marriage including the father. Here 
again we have an expression of nearness of relationship in 
the use of the personal name. The mother’s brother is entitled 
to use a more intimate name to his sister’s child, than the 
personal name used by the father to the same child, used 
by the father in common with members of the other susu of 
the village. 

Parents-in-law can name children-in-law and invite their 
children-in-law to eat side by side with them. A child can 
eat with its elder sister and her husband. When the child 
is adult, however, it cannot go freely at inclination to eat with 
its sister and brother-in-law. It will be recalled that brothers- 
in-law’s names, and sisters-in-law’s names suffer a reciprocal 
restriction in disuse. 

In the previous section on marriage we have already seen 
much of the relationship that develops between two villages 
connected by marriage. The disuse of personal names between 
members of the villages, respectively eyena to each other, 
falls correctly under the explanation of a feeling of distance. 

In Dobu, however, social trends do not fall into clearcut 
exclusive categories. Just as we have seen that susu right 
is beset with opposing exceptions, marriage regulations some- 
times set aside, and, as we shall see later, magic includes elements 
that smack of what is usually termed religious feeling, so the 
disuse of personal names is not invariably an expression of 
distance. It is primarily just this as I have shown ; but the 
idea of foregoing the use of the personal name has run riot 
in Dobu and become incorporated into the expression of 
other social feelings than its primary one. 

Owners of the village, when they are old and the grey 
has come into their hair, avoid each others’ personal names. 
They refer to each other as the father of x (naming the child), 
or the mother of y. 

Again any two persons who have privately shared food 
together, or have given each other magical ritual, or have 
lain the two in close succession with a woman they have been 
co-operating in seducing, or have shared a journey on their 
common errand, avoid each other’s personal names as a token 
of their friendship. It must be a private matter between 

Use of Personal Names 67 

two persons only. In an essentially similar way a youth never 
uses the name of a girl he has lain with in his nightly excursions, 
or she his. I have no evidence that the avoidance of names 
between two persons of the same sex who have shared in a 
private tete a tete affair is homosexual however. It is obviously 
wider than sex. For instance, I had to avoid the personal 
name of the man with whom I went for many days deep into 
the bush to learn magical ritual. We always called each other 
igu esoi, my partner of a day’s private journey. Similarly, 
two men who share cooked sago privately call each other my sago 
sharer, or cooked fish, my fish sharer, or a joint seduction of 
a woman, my sharer in seduction. Persons who contract these 
privately chosen partnerships give each other private gifts 
often. The whole relationship is non-public, non-ceremonial, 
privately contracted friendship. Here the disuse of personal 
names connotes the opposite of distance in feeling. This 
category of disuse disposes of a very large number of relation- 
ships where personal names are not otherwise prohibited. 

In general personal names remain only to be used firstly to 
persons one has a strategic advantage over, as a mother-in-law 
to a son-in-law, a child to his “ navel ”, or a child to his father’s 
sister over whom he holds a joking relationship, and to her 
husband by extension — and secondly by father to child, mother’s 
brother to sister’s child, mother to child, and brother to sister 
where there is a strategic advantage in the first three cases (and 
naming of the elders by the children is not done usually) but 
not in the last case, the brother-sister relationship, which is 
one of reciprocal friendship and exchange of services, as is 
also the father’s sister, brother’s child relationship where naming 
is also reciprocal. 

Linguistically there are three classes of possessive affixes 
which are attached to three classes of nouns according to 
nearness or distance of possession. The suffix gu is used for 
a part of the speaker’s body, a state of his mind, a trait of his 
character, a legitimate relative of his. The prefix agu is used 
for an illegitimate relative of the speaker’s, such as his bastard 
child, his name, his magical knowledge, his pubic leaf, and 
food intended for” his eating. The prefix igu is used for the 
speaker’s food which he intends to give to others to eat, his 
house, his canoe, his trees, his fishing and hunting gear, and 
in the case of a woman, for her grass skirt. We see the gradua- 
tion of distance noticeably in the border line cases, legitimate 
and bastard child being on different sides of the first border. 

68 Social Organization 

food for eating and food for giving away being on different 
sides of the second border. Again, a man’s pubic leaf is on 
one side of the second border, whereas a woman’s grass skirt 
is on the other side. In fact, a man can never remove his 
single pubic leaf without exposure, whereas the women wear 
many grass skirts one on top of another, and are constantly 
removing an upper skirt or two in order to work more freely. 
Skirts are often to be seen hanging up in the house or laid 
aside on the ground, their owner retaining an underskirt or two. 
Hence suffix gu, prefix agu^ and prefix tgu express the three 
grades of nearness and distance of the object possessed. The 
personal name is in the second class. Like food for one’s own 
eating, it is not shared freely with others. When others use 
it, this fact is associated with more important liberties, as we 
have seen. The name is classed with food for eating, a man’s 
magic, and a man’s pubic leaf. 


Custom and Magic 

We have seen how the village graveyard cc ntains the dead 
ancestors of the various susu who are village owners. In some 
rare cases a corpse is buried in a strange village. Now it is 
strong native sentiment that a person’s loyalty is to the village 
in the centre place of which sleep his mothers, mothers’ mother, 
and the generations of the mothers of the village before them. 
The sentiment is native, and I have cast it into native terms, 
even our own euphemism “ sleep ” being also the Dobuan 
idiom. A Dobuan speaks of all the older generation female 
owners of the village as “ our mothers ”. In practice when a 
native’s true mother was buried in a strange village — I knew 
of one case only — the native left his own village and lived in 
the place where his mother was buried. His mother’s sisters, 
true and classificatory, and brothers, true and classificatory, were 
buried in his own village. But he followed a sentimental course 
and that led him to live where his mother was laid. He was 
given land there and adopted into that village, retaining only 
a secondary loyalty to his own village. 

Inheritance keeps within the one small susu line, sentiment 
in the case cited above was within the one susu only, and in 
general the susu, a small unit, is the limit of strong loyalty. 
Terminologically all the elder women of the village are 

Custom and Magic 69 

“ mothers ”, but the term does not mean a great deal. 
Terminologically all the women of the village of one’s own 
generation are “ sisters ”, but it is only within the susu 
that incest is great crime. Affairs, as opposed to marriages, with 
village “ sisters ” are not greatly condemned, and are often 
practised. The terminology, village wide, is correlated with a 
functional economic unity. In economic exchanges the village 
acts as a unit. But even here the susu directly implicated in an 
economic exchange for a marriage of one of its members, 
contributes more heavily than the other susu of the village 
who help it. Condemnation of marriage with a village “ sister ” 
is partly based on the fact that marriage should, and does normally, 
set up large economic exchanges between two villages, in which 
each village acts as a solid unit. Marriage within the village 
splits it up as if it were two villages, each part having its own 
economic pooling arrangement opposed to the other with 
which it must now exchange, instead of co-operating to make 
an exchange with an outside village. Such a marriage within 
a village cannot make for exchange on the grand scale that 
is possible with the exogamous arrangement. It is a ” poor ” 
marriage, as well as supernaturally dangerous. 

In gardening each person owns his or her own seed yams. 
Husband and wife do not own seed yams in common ; there 
is always seed of the male, and seed of the female. Seed 
of the male is seed saved yearly from a line of seed handed 
down to a man by inheritance within his susu. Seed of the 
female is seed saved yearly from a line of seed handed down 
to a w'oman by inheritance within her susu. The same line 
of seed descends within the stau, never is it held in common 
by the marital grouping or bequeathed within the family 
by marriage. Man and wife have their distinct and separate 
annual garden plots with distinct and separate seed of separate 
strain. Yams then planted by anyone are of a strain that 
was planted before one by those ancestors of one’s stisu who 
lie in the central graveyard of one’s village. They are not 
only of this strain — but, they can be of no other. A woman 
who eats up all her yam crop, saving none for seed, will not 
plant a garden in the ensuing years. The pressure of 
population upon the food supply is such that a person who 
has not kept his or her seed yams expects no relief, no seed 
yams from elsewhere, and does not get any. I knew of several 
women in this position. They were thieves, or fishers, sago 
workers and beggars. Fish and sago are not plentiful enough 

70 Social Organization 

to support anyone. They are poor resources that must be 
eked out by thieving or begging. Negwadi, the woman 
I mentioned above, was one of those in this position. Fishers, 
who trade fish for yams, are heartily despised. They are the 
native beach-combers of Dobu. They have at one period 
lost their seed through privation and urgent hunger. Seed 
does not, like garden land, descend from father to child as 
well as from a man to his sister’s child. It descends in the 
latter line only. The natives go through an annual season 
of privation when the yam supply is running low, when they 
live mainly on roots and wild leaves of certain trees with small 
remnants of yams or early yams taken from the new gardens 
before they are grown — and with the usual rare pigs taken 
hunting or small fish that are caught with much trouble and 
scant reward in the poorly stocked seas. Fishing methods 
are primitive, as well as the sea about Dobu being a poor fishing 
ground. Pigs are not caught often in the hunt. 

A person eating into a personal stock of seed may get sub- 
sequent help from a blood brother or a blood sister in an 
unusually good year, if the brother or sister is willing to risk 
breaking up his or her marriage by giving away seed ; for 
although man and wife do not own seed in common they 
share the crop as their common household food. It is a marital 
right. Nevertheless there do exist the class of native beach- 
combers without seed, and without help in seed gifts from 
others. The theory is that a person who has eaten what 
should have been seed once will do so again. Hence it is 
not right that a brother should sacrifice himself for such a 
sister or vice-versa. 

The Dobuans do not talk of pressure of population upon 
land in this regard. They say that only the seed descended 
within the susu will grow. If seed could ever be obtained 
as a gift from other susu, as it cannot, it would not grow anyway, 
far less seed from other villages. 

Different villages of different totems have different garden 
magic. Yam seed, we have seen, is only handed down in 
the susu line, from a man to his sister’s son. The dogma 
current in Dobu is that only the magic handed down from 
a man to his sister s son will grow the seed. This dogma 
is stoutly maintained as true by everyone. It is a social dogma 
the voicing of which is essential to salvation. Never can 
the dogma be questioned. My doing so only made everyone 

Custom and Magic 71 

My questioning it, however, was well based. In practice 
men do teach their own children garden magic. My own 
teacher was teaching his daughter garden magic ; and I un- 
covered other such instances. My teacher’s daughter belonged 
to the Brown Eagle totem and the local village of it, he to 
the Green Parrot. At my teacher’s death his garden crop 
of the year of his death will be placed in his deserted house 
with religious care. It will be inherited by his sister’s children 
of his own totem, the Green Parrot ; and before the time of 
its distribution the daughter of the Brown Eagle will be pro- 
hibited absolutely from so much as entering her dead father’s 
village. She will inherit seed from her mother or from her 
mother’s brother of the Brown Eagle totem. The garden 
magic she was being taught was her father’s, an other-totem 
magic from the totem of her seed inheritance. 

Practice here is in circumvention of the dogma, in direct 
contradiction to it. It is bad taste however to quote instances 
of contrary practice in dispute of dogma. The dogma that 
only magic descended in the distaff line can grow seed similarly 
descended would, if acted upon, preserve the inheritance of 
garden magic exclusively within the susti, as in the case of 
most inheritance. It is a dead letter in practice. But the 
letter lives in every native’s mouth nevertheless. It is a matter 
of belief to which everyone must subscribe, but on which 
no one need act. No one does act on it. But the dogma 
that only magic bequeathed parallel with the bequest of seed 
will grow the seed, although it does not prevent a father teaching 
a child garden magic, does prevent a seed-dispossessed person 
from acquiring seed from anywhere outside the susu. My 
offer of seed from another island plus five pounds (ten months 
indentured labour equivalent in wages) in replacement of 
anyones’ seed went untaken in Tewara. The dogma also is 
stated as the reason why charity to a seed-dispossessed person 
would be useless, and why such a person cannot buy seed 
in exchange for any native valuable, however precious. Seed 
so got would not grow, and everyone would laugh to shame a 
rash attempt at growing it, was the reply to my offer of money. 
Where traditional economic considerations support the dogma 
it lives in practice as well as in theory ; otherwise not in 

Behind the dogma stands the fact that the susu, the single 
own true susu, is the unit of loyalty. Even within the one 
susu, help with seed is difficult to give in cases one living member 

72 Social Organization 

encroaches on his or her seed. Other members of the sum 
are bound by marriage ties and pressure upon the family 
food supply. By inheritance at the death of a member of the 
susu, seed may be gained by another member or members. 

The susu stands out as a close and important unit. The 
marital grouping is another important unit. The village 
as a unit composed of several susu is less important. The 
locality is less important again. Next comes the totem, the 
least important and the largest grouping of all. The totem 
has its bird name. The locality, a geographical unit, has 
a geographical name. The village has a geographical name 
and, by virtue of its being a subdivision of a totem, it has a 
bird name that is rarely used, the geographical name having 
unambiguous reference. Within the village one’s own susu 
is so much more important to one than other sum are that 
there are terms of unambiguous reference. All the women 
of elder generation are termed sinana mothers, but a mother 
of another susu may be specified as sina-yaiabara-na or sina- 
yaeyumne. A “ sister ” of another susu will be nuu-yaiebara~na 
or nuu~yaiyumne. Yaiabara means “ across ”. Hence my 
village mother or sister is my mother-across, or my sister- 
across as distinguished from my mother who bore me, or my 
sister from my own mother’s womb. Similarly of all the 
terms, the classificatory relatives may be demarked by the 
root term being used with a qualifying adjective between 
root and pronominal suffix, or root term with qualifying 
adjective and loss of the pronominal suffix. Yaiebara or 
yaeyumne suffixed to the stem of a term signifies classificatory 
relative. This distinction is not made in ordinary term of 
address, but it is made often in explanation of a relationship. 
With the use of this terminology all the members of other 
smu than own susii are cut off apart. 

All persons who are boundary men to the one place are 
brother and sister to one another by term of address, irrespective 
of generation. But the fact that they are not tasina or nuuna 
of own sum, or tast-yaiobara-na or nuu-yaiobara-na of other 
susu of the same village as the speaker may be explained by 
saying ina elaba tasina, his boundary man brother or ina elaba 
nuuna his boundary man sister. Similarly a boundary man 
may designate the people who are owners in the village of the 
dead father as “ my owner of the village relative ” specifying 
the relationship. A member of the village in return may 
specify a boundary man, as “ my boundary naan relative ” 

Custom and Magic 73 

specifying the relationship. The term “ boundary man ” 
in this last case is labalaba for boundary man. The term 
is reduplicated, so distinguishing it from the unreduplicated 
form elaba that is used of relationship between persons who 
are all alike boundary men to the one place. It will be evident 
that, despite classificatory terms and a double use of them 
dependent on the life or the death of the father, and despite 
their use in unmodified form as terms of address, they may 
all be differentiated terminologically in the explanation of 
any particular relationship. 

It may be noted of the terminology of relationship that 
it is very convenient for children who run away from elder 
oppression in the manner described in the previous section. 
A child running away from its mother’s brother, it’s wana, 
runs to its father’s sister where her husband, the male head 
of the family is also a wana to the child. A child running 
away from its father, its tamana, goes to its mother’s sister 
where the male head of the family, the child’s “ navel ”, is also 
by term of address tamana. So a child goes from a possessive 
ruling wana to an indulgent non-possessive wana and from 
a possessive ruling tamana to an indulgent non-possessive 
tamana. The social relationships of the child to its true 
wana and tamana are very different from its relationships 
to its father’s sister’s husband, wana, and its “ navel ”, tamana. 
The former pair are possessive lords of the child’s life. The 
latter pair are non-possessive strangers on good behaviour. 
The former pair leave property to the child ultimately, the 
latter pair leave nothing. 

The way in which relationship terminology is used between 
boundary man and the owners of his dead father’s place reflects 
social practice accurately enough. But the equivalence in 
terminology of wana, and tamana, etc., does not express 
equivalence of social function. Elder generation individuals 
married into the mother’s place are given the terms of the 
owners of the father’s place. Similarly individuals married 
into the father’s place are given the terms of the owners of 
the mother’s place. This terminology is one well adapted to 
reflect the social practice of the dual organisation ; but, in 
point of fact, Dobu with its ban upon cross-cousin marriage 
and its ban upon boundary man entering his or her dead 
father’s place, presents a vicious denial of any trend in the 
direction of the dual organisation. 

Reverting to the point of the husband owning “ seed of 

74 Social Organization 

the male ” and the wife owning “ seed of the female ” we 
can easily see how important it is for a marriage to be made 
between two good lines of yam seed. A man with a good 
stock of seed should have a wife with a good stock also, if 
their respective villages are to keep their pride in the economic 
aspect of the marriage. Hence sometimes child betrothals 
are made by the parents of two families. A beach-comber 
woman who has eaten into her stock of seed seriously, will 
hardly find a husband. Negwadi never did and never would. 
Lisi, as we have seen, married her cross-cousin. Another 
such woman lived with a white man. Despite Lisi’s success 
in finding a man, such success is rare in these cases. Hence, 
when a stock of yam seed is lost, the line tends to be broken. 
The woman usually finds no mate, and rears no children to 
succeed to her poor inheritance, and to her despised poverty. 

I have referred to the mother-in-law’s strong hand over 
her son-in-law, enforced by custom of social organisation, 
and by the son-in-law’s fear of her as a witch. The 
Trobrianders are accustomed to comment on this grass skirt 
domination over the Dobuan men and to make merry at it. 
The women of Dobu do actually possess incantations for 
malignant witchcraft, incantations which they believe enable 
them to fly by night to make mischief, to kill, to dance upon 
the graves of their former victims, to disinter their victims 
and in spirit hold ghoulish feasting on them. Meanwhile, 
the woman as “an empty skin ” stays asleep in her house. 
The Trobriand women do not possess these magical incant- 
ations and powers. Women’s possession of such spells in 
Dobu and non-possession in the Trobriands appears to be 
an actual fact. For this stated reason Dobuan men feel them- 
selves safer in the Trobriands, a strange place, than at home 
in direct contradiction of their usual greater fear abroad in 
strange places other than the Trobriands. Conversely the 
Trobrianders are nervous in Dobu. A few Dobuan women 
who have married into the Trobriands and settled there, 
are greatly feared by the Dobuan visitors. Dobuan fear of the 
night actually is discarded by Dobuan visitors in the Trobriands. 

Eating in Dobu is a private affair. Restriction upon 
eating in the village of the betrothed, and public eating from 
the hand of the mother-in-law constituting formal marriage, 
is consonant with the normal feeling. Eating is a single family 
affair. Visitors are never invited to share a meal. They 
may be given food, but if so they eat it apart with their backs 

Custom and Magic 75 

turned to the givers. Apart from ceremonial events each 
family follows its separate pursuits during the day, eats 
its separate meal at night, settles down to its separate conversation 
after it and sleeps each family in its separate house. When 
two families form an evening group for eating and conversation 
they are parents-in-law and chUdren-in-law respectively. 
Otherwise families keep apart. Brothers from the one mother 
keep to the ground beneath their separate huts, each with 
his wife apart. 

The family not only has the house. It also has the garden 
as its private resort. I have mentioned that visitors never 
enter the house. They sit underneath the house or on its 
projecting front “ verandah Visitors also never enter 
another person’s garden. It is said that the gardens are often 
the place for conjugal intimacy. My early visiting of gardens 
was always resented. Later I learned that it was not done. 
Early in betrothal and first year or two of marriage the child- 
in-law must garden in co-operation with the parents-in-law. 
Later in the marriage the garden plots of the pair become 
their own inviolable place. This rule applies even at harvest 
time. There is no inspection of other persons’ harvests, 
as in the Trobriands, once a parent-in-law has had two or 
three years’ right of inspection of a potential or new child- 
in-!aw’s gardening. 

The family by marriage has thus its stressed independence 
just as it has also its stressed dependences on kin groupings. 
It moves in and out of the village to take up residence in the 
alternative village of residence on its own initiative. The 
rule of alternate seasons is observed by nearly everyone, but 
one family may move at first fruits, another at full harvest, 
another a month or two after harvest, and so scatteredly. 

It is only rarely that a wife stays apart in her own village 
and a husband apart in his own village. I saw only one such 
case. Their respective villages were engaged in preparing 
food and wealth to interchange in validation of the marriage 
of Nathaniel and his wife. Nathaniel escorted his wife and 
baby home every night to her village, and then returned alone 
to his own. He worked in the mornings with his kin, she 
with her kin. They met in public in the non-working after- 
noon and parted for sleeping at night. It was said that such 
separation was good since she helped her kin and he his, each 
waking up in the morning in the company of working mates, 
ready for work. 

76 Social Organization 

Such separation is very rare, however. Actually, in all 
such marriage validating exchanges, husband and wife are 
engaged separately, each co-operating with his and her kinsmen 
respectively. But they do not sleep apart as a rule in order 

to facilitate the work. When I pointed this out to my 

informants they capitulated from their lofty position of 

complete economic explanation, and said significantly “ their 
bodies are weary ”. The family had not moved from 
Nathaniel’s to his wife’s village for eighteen months. Now 
that the marriage was to be celebrated economically the wife’s 
kin insisted on her staying in their village. Nathaniel’s kin 
wanted his help, and the pair parted amicably for the time. 
It was a case in strong contrast to the usual rule of no parting 
for any consideration, except with a brawl occasioned by 
jealous suspicion, obscenity, recriminations and often attempts 
at suicide. In this case a family forfeited its privacy of house 
and garden mildly for the time being while its separate susu 
and village susu groups were at an economic high point. But 
the case was abnormal. The usual teaching of a Dobuan 
mother to her daughter is that the only way to keep her man 
faithful to her is to keep him as weary sexually as lies in 
her power. 

When the family changes its village residence for the year 
it practically cuts off all else than ceremonial relations with 
the other village. In general there is little casual inter-village 

Punctilio is observed, and a too friendly going to and fro 
would be regarded as unwarranted trespassing. In the 
native view a village of another place is not merely a village 
of actual or possible marriage ties knitting it to some member 
of the kin, but it is also in one aspect a village of sorcerers 
and witches who are suspected of having caused disease and 
death within the kin, and in another aspect it is a village with 
which ceremonial relations are kept up in occasional, but 
regular, ceremonial meetings — and once on a ceremonial 
footing always on a ceremonial footing is native sentiment. 
A man who went out of his way into another village would 
be immediately suspected of a will to adultery. In traversing 
a long path a traveller will circuit the outside of a village 
unless it is the village of his or her own living father or own 
spouse in which case he or she will be invited to enter. This 
condition of affairs in the state of the small sized village 
which obtains restrirts the field worker’s circle of informants 

Custom and Magic 77 

seriously, and he can do nothing to change it. There are 
occasional goings to and fro for healing incantations in cases 
of illness — different villages possessing specialists in causing 
and curing different diseases in many cases, and exchanging 
their services in healing in time of trouble ; and there are 
individual early evening excursions by the bachelors to the 
houses of the unmarried girls in other villages. Apart from 
these recognised practices the rule is that no person intrudes 
upon another village. Those-resulting-from-marriage when 
they are in Rome do as Rome does to a great extent. The 
family, once it has moved, stays apart from the place it has 
moved from, and a brother does not resort to his sister’s and 
mother’s place too often when he is resident in his wife’s 
place. He must conciliate his wife’s kindred by not seeming 
to run away from them too much. Moreover, he needs to 
watch his wife fairly closely for fear of infidelity. The reverse 
applies when the \rife is in her husband’s place. Jealousy 
and suspicion of adultery are sentiments of great and abnormal 
growth in Dobuan married life. Pathological cases are 
reported here and there where a husband does not leave his 
wife even when she wishes to perform the natural functions. 
He goes with her to the bush. These cases arouse merriment 
and disapprobation, because prudery in public is strongly 
insisted upon. Nevertheless, they are natural enough ex- 
tensions of the normal feeling which is not so very far removed 
from such extreme cases. Every Dobuan man will say that 
a woman met alone apart is naturally an object to be picked 
up and carried into cover. They do not in the great majority 
of cases cry out or tell their husbands afterwards. They 
rarely have to be raped. Women rarely go alone, except 
when they evade their husband’s notice by some chance. 
Theoretically a person alone is in danger of witchcraft. Hence 
there must always be an escort, if only a child escort, for men 
as well as for women. 

In the marriage exchanges that inaugurate marriage it 
will be recalled that after the groom’s kin take a gift of orna- 
mental valuables to the bride’s kin, the latter go to the village 
of the groom and formally sweep it throughout. This 
symbolic sweeping of a village is similar to two other customs. 
When the men returned victorious from war bringing home 
corpses for a cannibal feast, the women formally swept the 
villages throughout. It is the response of the woman’s group 
to good behaviour by the man’s group, for when the men 

yS Social Organization 

returned defeated and empty-handed the sweeping was not 
done. The women tied their grass skirts under their loins 
in imitation of the man’s pubic leaf instead — a woman’s strike 
as the response to bad behaviour by the man’s group. 

The second related custom occurs when a widow runs 
away from the village of her dead husband before her mourning 
there is done, eloping with another man. In such a case 
the owners of the village of the dead go to the village of the 
man who has absconded with their widow. They litter 
the village with torn off leaves and branches, and plunder 
anything in the house of the man who has taken their widow 
that they can lay hands on. This littering of the village and 
plundering is done by the men. I did not hear of any case 
where a man refusing to mourn, wadai, married immediately, 
or of any littering of the place of an interloping woman who 
had captured a mourning widower. A widow to escape 
mourning must elope. A widower who refuses to mourn 
does not elope necessarily. He may merely go back in surly 
aloofness to his own village. He need not marry again until 
fear of reprisals has become old history ; but a woman to 
escape mourning must flee to a man who is willing to pay 
for it, and who has made secret advances in that direction. 

It will be apparent that the machinery for punishing crime 
in Dobu does exist to a certain extent. Theft and adultery 
are spoken of as admired virtues if one can evade detection 
and accomplish them successfully. Incantations to aid in 
theft and in adultery are highly prized. There is very little 
public sentiment against such activity and a great deal of 
private sentiment directed towards being an accomplished 
thief and adulterer. One of the most respected men in the 
community once gave me an incantation for making the spell- 
binder invisible with the recommendation “ now you can 
go into^ the shops in Sydney, steal what you like, and get 
away with it unseen. I have many times taken other persons’ 
cooked pig. I joined their group unseen. I left with my 
joint of pig unseen ”. Outwardly there is great respect for 
personality springing directly from the fear of hostile sorcery 
or witchcraft. But secretly there is a covert desire to do the 
worst by neighbours, springing also from the fear of their 
sorcery and witchcraft. Thus outward respect goes with 
as much as can be done in ill turns without detection. Sorcery 
Md witchcraft are by no means criminal, because everyone 
indulges in one or the other according to sex, and everyone 

Custom and Magic 79 

knows it, although it is covered up to a certain extent by the 
convention of avoiding unpleasant subjects. 

Nevertheless, there are certain social self-protective 
sentiments and customs. One such is the littering and 
plundering of the village of the abductor of a widow in 
mourning. Adverse social comment is usually heartily dis- 
liked and prevents too many subversions of custom. It is 
used against persons who marry within the village, or who 
marry a native beach-comber without seed yams, or some- 
what less severely against persons who marry their cross- 
cousins. Withholding of the public economic validations 
of marriage in such cases is customary and wounds the pride 
of the persons concerned in the marriage. Comment on 
the conduct of a widower who is a wadai^ is felt severely. 
Obscenity used on a husband who has quarrelled with his 
vnfe by her kin is keenly resented by the husband. In Dobu 
obscenity is known as bake. It is used rarely and produces 
deep hurt. I have seen persons on whom bake has been 
used sulk silent and apart for a whole day afterward. If 
used between husband and wife themselves it is the traditional 
prelude to an immediate attempt at suicide by the injured 
party. “ Go copulate with the wild boars of the bush ” said 
by a husband to a wife leads to the wife attempting her life, 
as I saw for myself in one case. It is always deep insult. 
Togo who did not work the sago, yet took part in the sub- 
sequent feasting ; when I asked why this was allowed I was 
told, “he would use bake on us if we gave him offence.” 

To call a man a successful thief or a successful adulterer is, 
however, to praise him. Such sccial comment does not wound 
a man’s feelings, but exalts him in his own esteem. It is not 
to be classed with saying “ he did not mourn his dead wife 
correctly ” which is insulting, or saying “ copulate with a pig ” 
which is most deeply insulting. In consequence the only 
safeguard of fidelity in marriage is constant private vigilance 
by all concerned, and otherwise good treatment of a wife by 
her husband. 

Private ownership in betel-nut and coconut palms is ensured 
in two ways. 

On coconut and betel (nut) palms away from the village, 
there is to be seen the customary dried coconut palm leaf 
tied round the trunk. This leaf stays there always. The 
first missionary in Dobu, the Rev. W. E. Bromilow, D.D., 
TT ^ Non-moumer. 

8o Social Organization 

on enquiring what this heraldic device betokened, was told 
that it made the tree “ sacred from woman’s touch ” ; and 
this ingenuous reply he has duly recorded in the Reports 
of the Australasian Association for the Advancement of 

Actually the leaf is a warning that a spell for causing 
elephantiasis, gangosa, tertiary yaws or the like, has been placed 
upon the tree trunk. A thief will touch it at his peril. The 
question naturally arises, how then can the rightful owner 
of the tree gather the fruit of it ? The answer to this legitimate 
question lies in a local census of the ownership of spells for 
causing disease. It will then be found that different susu 
of the same locality own the spells for different diseases. This 
ownership is hereditary within a susu line of descent, and 
one susu will never sell its peculiar different powers to another. 
Magibweli, the old rain-making once cannibalistic woman, 
of the next door village owns elephantiasis of the scrotum 
and pubes, Sati, the unmarried widow with the two children 
who has recently been involved in a scandal with Kisi, 
someone else’s husband, owns incontinence of urine and 
incontinence of semen. Togo, the village wastrel of the 
village next door, owns cerebral malaria and meningitis. 
Yogalu, the most honest old character in the village, and ap- 
preciated for it by none, but rather depreciated, owns intestinal 
mortification. The most influential family in the village 
owns gangosa, limb paralysis and tertiary yaws. So the list 
goes over a wide gamut of different diseases. By a dogma 
of magic only he or she who knows the spell which will inflict 
the disease, knows also the exorcism which will banish it. 
Hence Magibweli puts elephantiasis of the scrotum and pubes 
on her private property in trees. When she goes to pluck 
the fniit she exorcises the disease. Sati does the same with 
her spells for incontinences for her private property in trees, 
and so on. Magibweli is afraid to go near Sati’s trees, and 
Sati near Magibweli’s ; so for the locality. Persons belonging 
to other localities do not trespass, and if perchance they do, 
they will not be well informed of the situation regarding 
property in trees and in spells in a strange locality. 

If anyone in the locality contracts elephantiasis of the 
scrotum, the kin of the patient repair to old Magibweli, bearing 
water vessels. Magibweli breathes the spell of the exorcism 

* Vols. xii and xiii, together with a great deal of other misinformation and 
a little fact. 

Custom and Magic 8i 

into a water vessel containing water, stops up the vessel to 
keep the spell within it,, and takes a fee. The kin of the 
patient hurry with the charmed w'ater to the patient and bathe 
the affected organ carefully with it. Then, if the patient 
has thieved from Magibweli’s private trees, she at best has 
had her revenge, and received a fee for exerting her art of 
exorcism. Naturally, in such a case there will be general 
certainty either that the afflicted person has been thieving, 
or else that he had offended Magibweli in a more personal 
matter, and that she had succeeded in breathing the spell on 
to a bush creeper twined across the patient’s path. No one 
knows which case is true, whether the disease is a legal sanction 
or the less legal sanction incurred in a more personal feud. 
Only the patient will know. He may tell himself that he 
once walked too near Magibweli’s trees, even if he is not guilty 
of theft. I have known such an acceptance of the situation. 
Or he may secretly vow revenge on Magibweli if he has not 
thieved and if he does not recover. In any event, a complete 
avoidance is certain to spring up between himself and that 
old woman. She was liable to die at any time from the en- 
feeblement due to ageing years, when I knew her. But death 
from old age is not accepted as such by the natives. If some- 
one in the locality contracted elephantiasis not more than 
several years before the old woman died there would be 
natural suspicion of foul play leading to her death. If not, 
there are other witchcraft scrapes into which the old woman 
had inevitably been plunged. Everyone is in, or only half 
out of, such troubles continuously. 

Magibweli bears the weight of responsibility for all 
elephantiasis in the locality on her shoulders, in addition 
to protecting her private property in trees with this particular 
affliction. Such protection of private property is gained at 
the payment of a great risk of very considerable social acrimony 
within the locality. Personally I think that this kind of 
thing is the most striking rebuttal of Dr. W. H. R. Rivers’ 
theory of Melanesian communism that these societies offer. 
Before I left Tewara I could often place a particular palm — 
“ that’s gangosa,” another “ that’s incontinence of urine and 
of semen ”, another “ that’s cerebral malaria and meningitis ”. 
It is not considered polite to voice such a method of classi- 
fication publicly. One says only “ that’s Kisi’s tree, isn’t 
it ? ” or “ that’s Sati’s ”, or “ that’s Togo’s, didn’t you once 
tell me ? ” For everyone, of course, is like Magibweli in 

82 Social Organization 

bearing a burden as well as a private policeman. Not that 
they feel the burden always. It is the order of society and 
of the universe, and our pleasant freedom from such un- 
necessary social complications would appear as a sentimental 
and an unreal idyll. Disease spells are called tabu. 

I do not know of bequests of tabus by a man to his son 
and to his sister’s son both. It is possible that this occurs ; 
but the assured fact that different susu in Tewara owned non- 
overlapping tabus would indicate this is not so. 

To understand this fact let us follow out the theoretical 
possibility that the tabus, like garden magic, might descend 
down a double line, one patrilineal, one matrilineal ; allowing 
for the fact that divorce is very frequent indeed, that step- 
fathers do not normally leave magic to stepchildren, and that 
complete separation between father and child by a divorced 
wife is more common than continued attachment. Such 
patrilineal inheritance is likely to be cut short before many 

A strictly kept rule is that a child may not eat of the fruit 
of a dead father’s trees. The abstinence of a parent towards 
his or her father’s trees is enforced on a child in turn. 
Accordingly, if the same tabus were bequeathed by a man to 
his son and to his sister’s son, the former could not use the 
tabus to pilfer the trees of the latter compatibly with keeping 
the rule of abstinence, nor his son after him. But the patrilineal 
line would have no comparable protection from the matrilineal 
line. No subsidiary abstinence exists to protect them. 
Consequently their only protection is different tabus. 

In the case of garden magic, we found a dogma that would 
enforce exclusive susu inheritance paid lip service, but disregarded 
in practice. In the case of tabus, the abstinence from fruit of 
a dead father’s or grandfather’s trees is kept fairly rigidly and 
ensures exclusive susu inheritance. 

Again, a man in default of a good monopoly in a disease may 
protect a tree more precariously by naming it after a family 
catastrophe in his own family. Thus a man whose brother fell 
from a siwabu tree and was killed, calls his palms siwabu, and 
his private ownership in them is respected. He has inherited 
a big overseas canoe ; he calls it siwabu and he alone has direction 
over it. If he is eating his food and does not wish to share it, 
he says “ this food is siwabu ” and none will ask for it or expect 
a share in it. Most of these names were derived from incidents 
connected with the deaths of close relatives ; one I knew. 

Custom and Magic 83 

however, was derived from an incident in which a man ate 
some unorthodox food and sustained a severe stomach-ache — 
whereat he made a dance and song, and recorded the food as 
his property protection name. He was the humorist of the 
village, and had a strong incapacity for seriousness, but he was 
gravely dignified over this matter. This custom is called 
kelamoa ; niu-lamoa is a coconut palm with lamoa protection. 
If anyone steals from a tree so protected no proceedings are 
taken against the thief, even if he or she is detected in the 
act. But the owner of the tree must cut it down in outraged 
protest. I am sorry to say that this strong appeal for public 
sympathy, this somewhat pathetic appeal, does not always meet 
with a chivalrous response. Sometimes owners of such lamoa 
trees have to cut them down in sullen fury. Even the tabu 
protection, though less often violated, is sometimes dared. 
The daring criminal puts his own different infection on the 
tree after stealing, trusting that it will infect the owner if the 
owner’s infection has caught him in the stealing. 

Property is best safeguarded by watching over it. The 
garden is protected in this manner. An actual garden thief 
is most heartily despised — that is, one that is caught in the act. 
It is believed that yams can be enticed out of one man’s garden 
into another man’s by the latter’s magic. Everyone, the most 
respectable included, practise magic to steal the crops of other 
persons’ gardens in this way. It is done every year by all 
gardeners, in private, as a matter of course. The yams are 
believed to emerge from the gardens and walk about in the 
night. Then they can be enticed away from their home garden 
by magical incantations. Stealing here is believed to be done 
by magic alone. The person who steals in the flesh from another 
person’s garden is not despised for stealing as such, but for 
stealing in a clumsy, inefficient, and ridiculously pride for- 
swearing manner. It is base to admit such poverty, as is admitted 
by garden stealers in the flesh. It is degradation to eat into one’s 
stock of seed yams, not setting aside seed enough for a reasonably 
good garden. One then becomes the native beach-comber, 
object of scorn to all, and the typical beach-comber act is garden 
stealing in the flesh. Hence, all good citizens steal by magical 
methods which are believed to be both more consonant with 
pride and also more efficient on a large scale. 

There is only the most embryonic germ of government by 
chieftainship. In each locality there are one or two persons of 
outstanding influence. Such leadership occurs when a man 

Social Organization 


of unusual character happens to be bom into a rich inheritance 
of magical ritual power. Such a man was Alo of my own village 
of the Green Parrot folk. He was to be heard now and again 
in guguia, the public admonishing of a member of his own 
village. He would commonly talk for half-an-hour or so in 
loud, angry staccato sentences. The other tai sinabwadi, big 
men, of the village took no part, but listened quietly. On these 
occasions one of the big men commonly whispered to me in a 
reverential tone,i^u^uia,he is laying down the law, and motioned 
to me to sit down and be silent. There was complete silence, 
no reply or repartee, although obviously one or two persons 
and a small party of sympathisers were seething in revolt and 
being most severely tongue-lashed. Such a man as Alo can 
take risks in public admonishing of offenders because his 
sorcery is reputed to be the strongest, his knowledge of ritual 
the best in his locality. He can dare defiance with an impunity 
not granted to other men. Such a man provides the only 
germ of good government in Dobu. His influence in matters 
of morals does not extend beyond his own village, except as far 
as to Those-resulting-from marriage in his own village. I have 
described Alo at work admonishing Togo in another place. 
It was a dignified lecturing of Togo on his bad ways, not a 
screaming dismissal with obscenity as I saw a lesser man accord 
to Kopu when he quarrelled with his wife, an owner of the 
village. Togo got out of the village as speedily as Kopu, 
nevertheless. AJo had the usual sanction of a united kin 
group behind him in sympathy in dealing with an outsider, a 
resultant-from- marriage. In the case of a quarrel confined 
between owners of the village, Alo had no sanction behind his 
lecturing, however. He said his say, the quarrel stilling to 
hear it, but after he was done the quarrel might go on, and 
Alo became a private individual again. Nevertheless, without 
sanction of any kind, he alone had silence for his speech, however 
decisive against one of the conflicting parties, and he often 
carried his point. 

Other villages of Alo’s locality were not so ruled, however. 
There was no other outstanding man. All old men get more 
respect than young men from their juniors. But the decisions 
of three or four elder men are more conflicting, less decisively 
clear, and useless in the case of a dispute between village 
owners. The village group may mobilise easily against a badly 
behaved resultant-from-marriage without any good leader- 
ship, but only with angry recrimination, obscenity and the 

The Case of Yogalu 85 

like, vindictive without any redeeming note of calmer legality. 
In case of quarrel within the circle of village owners, such 
ill-led villages resolve into opposing parties. This actually 
happens in the majority of villages, but not so anarchically in 
a village that has an outstanding man of Alo’s quality. Alo was 
the greatest magician — ^that is to say, governor and administrator 
of native law. His power was all to the good, as he was, in public, 
fair and just. All cases were not referred to him, even within 
his village. Thus Kopu’s expulsion was done by another. 
A great deal of AJo’s power was due not only to his force of 
character and his inheritance of magic by primogeniture, but 
also to the fact that his mother had been prolific and his grand- 
mother before him. He was the eldest of the eldest line, but 
his blood brothers and sisters formed the village majority. 
Kopu’s wife was one of the susu not connected with Alo’s line 
by a known genealogy. On such rare circumstance as the 
combination of a strong personality with inheritance of magic in 
a family conspicuous for its magical knowledge, and with prolific 
descendants, does the barest show of legality in Dobu depend. 

Alo’s influence extended over his whole locality of several 
villages for fixing the sailing dates for overseas expeditions 
when the whole locality acted at one time. He had the best 
inheritance of the magical ritual necessary for overseas sailing. 
Such influence over several villages is a pure function of m^cal 
specialization however. In the same locality an old woman of 
another village than mine came to the fore as the one rain- 
maker in the locality. Her importance increased in time of 
drought, just as Alo’s did in time of large overseas expeditions. 
There were no pigs in this locality, but I know that in a different 
locality one old woman fixed the times when all the villages of 
the locality went on a big drive in a wild pig hunt. She possessed 
the magical ritual efficacious and necessary to lucky pig-hrmting. 

Alo, himself, was a law breaker when he married within his 
own village, two of his blood brothers deserting the village for 
two months or so in protest. In his private capacity, as opposed 
to his public capacity, he was as the others. 


The Case of Yogalu 

One of the most firmly founded facts of the social organization 
is that the mother’s brother constantly gives gifts of wealth 
and of magic to his sister’s son, who inherits all at death. A 


Social Organization 

cross-cousin owner exacts magic not so given him but given to his 
mother’s brother’s son from that son after the mother’s brother’s 
death, so that ’Inosi in describing his relationship to Alo said 
always “ my mother’s brother’s child, Alo ; hence magic for 
overseas expeditions he gives me without fee (It will be 
recalled that Alo was his locality’s specialist in this magic — 
hence the emphasis upon it.) In return for gifts the sister’s 
son helps the mother’s brother in gardening, in sailing his canoe 
overseas, and the like. 

The case of Yogalu is an interesting inversion of the normal 
situation. Yogalu, a middle-aged man, was poor in material 
wealth. His sister’s son, a child of four or five years old, was 
rich, and gave wealth to Yogalu, to a middle-aged man. This 
situation is a good instance of the emphasis upon reciprocity. 

Yogalu was a native of Bwaioa, a locality overseas from 
Tewara. He fought with the husband of Magile of Tewara 
over Magile, and killed him. He married Magile. Then he 
left Bwaioa and settled in his wife’s village. As is the custom 
in such cases, he was adopted by the village in the Tewara 
locality that was of the same totem as his village in the far off 
locality of his birth. He was by birth of a White Pigeon village 
of Bwaioa. He became by adoption a member of the White 
Pigeon village of Tewara. For some time he and Magile 
oscillated in the usual manner between his White Pigeon 
village of adoption and her Green Parrot village. Then a 
succession of deaths in the White Pigeon village frightened the 
pair away. They remained permanently in the Green Parrot 
village, Magile’s place. Yogalu could do this, as his kin of the 
White Pigeon were adopted kin and not as demanding as 
real kin. 

Mwedi also a native of Bwaioa, had married into Tewara. 
She was by birth a woman of a White Pigeon village of Bwaioa, 
one different from Yogalu’s, however. She left Bwaioa and 
settled in her husband’s place, the Green Parrot village of 
Tewara. Like Yogalu she became an adopted member of the 
White Pigeon village of the Tewara locality. Mwedi and her 
husband oscillated regularly between the Green Parrot and 
the White Pigeon villages — conforming more to custom than 
Yogalu and Magile in this particular. Yogalu, however, was 
always associated with the White Pigeon owners in their 
economic exchanges with other villages. In this respect, both 
Yogalu and Mwedi conformed. 

These two cases of marriage between two different localities. 

The Legend of the Saido Sere 87 

moreover localities of two widely sea-separated districts, found 
in one small village must not be taken as typical. Tewara 
locality was dying out at a very rapid rate. There land was 
plentiful, living easier, the land-owners unable to work all the 
island, and the population too small now to continue to practise 
the normal endogamy of the locality grouping, and yet mate all 
its members without village incest, marriage within the village. 
A few marriages in a locality are not endogamous within the 
locality. The rule applies only to the great majority of marriages. 
In the case of Tewara decline of population is very serious 
indeed, and, unlike all the other Dobuan speaking districts, 
Tewara has a surplus of land and a shortage of possible mates 
for marriage. 

Mwedi had married into the richest family in Tewara. Her 
five-year-old son, Mulubeos, was therefore rich with gifts from 
his father. So Mulubeos gave land and some coconut and 
betelnut palms to his mother’s adoptive brother, Yogalu. 
These trees Yogalu would enjoy the fruits of, but at Yogalu’s 
death Mulubeos would inherit the land back, all the richer for 
Yogalu’s work in planting. In this manner, strangers were 
brought into the social system in another locality than their 
own by birth. 

Neither Yogalu nor Mwedi ever went visiting to Bwaioa, their 
distant home. They had renounced their inheritance there. 
Their marriages were the two best and least troubled in Tewara. 
The demands of the kin had been well lost with the rewards 
from the kin also. Both Yogalu and Mwedi had gifts of 
necessities from the place of their wife and husband respectively. 
Tewara as an underpopulated locality, could afford to be 
generous to Those-resulting-from-marriage who were rifted 
apart from their kin. 


Legend of the Saido Sere and some General Considerations 

Young girls bathing, their gaze goes upwards. 

“ I for my husband Mr. Groundward-Branch.” 

“ And I for mine Mr. Middle-Branch.” 

” I for my husband Mr. Middle-Branch above yours.” 

“ And for mine Mr. Top-Shoot-Frizzling-in-the-Roasting.” 
The girls bathe and climb villagewards. They sleep. It 
dawns. Again they descend to bathe, they four. 

88 Social Organization 

“ I for my husband Mr. Groundward-Branch.” 

“ For mine Mr. Middle-Branch-below.” 

“ For mine Mr. Middle-Branch-above.” 

“ My husband Mr. Top-Shoot-Frizzling-in-the-Roasting.” 

Again the girls climb. They sleep. It dawns. They remain 
at home. 

” I go my brothers. You remain, and the women I shall 
see.” The Groundward Branch from his brothers he fell 
away and down (as leaves fall when sere and fruit when ripe). 
So he came down. He bathed, he anointed himself, he combed 
his hair, he painted his face. His personal basket he carried. 
He ascended villageward. 

An old woman. Torches of dried coconut leaf he brushed 
against rustling. “ My grandson, my coconut palm you may 
climb.” His personal basket he set down. He climbed the 
palm, he pulled down a nut. He descended. In his descent 
“ You turn about, head downwards, feet up, face in to trunk.” 
He did so. She kicked him. 

A steep cliff, cliff down he fell. 

Again they sleep in the Saido tree. “ My brother I go. You 
remain and the women I shall see.” 

He fell away and down (as leaves fall when sere, and fruit 
when ripe). So came Middle-Branch-below descending. He 
bathed, he anointed himself, he combed his hair, a fresh pubic 
leaf he donned, he painted his face. His personal pouch he 
carried and he ascended villageward. 

Torches stacked he brushed against rustling. “ O my 
grandson, my coconut palm you may climb.” His pouch he 
set down, he climbed, a nut he cut off. The nut it fell. He 
descended. “ You turn about, head down, feet up, face inwards 
to trunk of palm.” She kicked him. 

Cliff down he fell. 

(To cut the legend’s repetition, Middle-Branch-above did 
exactly as his brothers, Middle-Branch-below and Groundward 
Branch had done and met with the same fate.) 

They lie. With his brothers they lie, the three dwd. It 
dawns again. The youngest, Top-Shoot-Frizzling-in-the- 
Roasting fell away and down (as fall leaves when sere, and 
fruit when ripe). 

(Cutting repetition again — a thing never done by the native — 
and using a general term not used by the native.) He per- 
formed his toilet. He ascended villagewards. Torches stacked 
he brushed against rustling. 

The Legend of the Saido Sere 89 

“ O my grandson, my coconut palm you may climb.” He set 
down his pouch, he climbed, he plucked a nut. “ You descend.” 
He looked down. At the cliff foot he saw his three brothers 
dead. ” You turn about head down, feet up, face in to 

‘‘ That will I not.” He jumped to ground. He descended 
his brothers to them. A long I^gitaria sanguinalis grass stalk ^ 
he charmed with magic. He distended the nose of one with it. 

‘‘ Ash-i-e ! Who you ? You would awaken us. Go ! You 
may cease and we may sleep.” 

Another man — he distended the nose. 

“ Ash-i-e ! Who you ? You would waken me. You may 
cease and we may sleep.” 

Again another man he distended the nose. 

“ Ash-i-e ! Who you ? Go ! You may cease. Let us 

They arise. They ascend. The torches stacked they strip 
avoiding rustling them. They remove them, ascend her 

The old woman she says, “ Long ago did I not kill you.” 
They roast her in the earth-oven. Her pigs, her dogs they kill. 
Together they roast them, together in the earth-oven. They 
eat. They go. 

” Where long ago the woman she named me as her husband, 
me Groundward-Branch ? ” 

“ I am she.” He goes with her, his wife. 

” Where long ago the woman she named me as her husband, 
me Middle-Branch-below ? ” 

“ 1 .” He goes with her, his wife. 

“ Where long ago the woman she named me as her husband, 
me Middle-Branch-above ? ” 

“ I.” He goes with her, his wife. 

The youngest : 

“ Where long ago the woman she named as her husband, me 

<1 J >9 

The elders on the floor they sleep. The youngest on the 
house loft floor. With their wives they sleep. The eldest’s 
wife gave birth to a child. He, the father. Groundward Branch, 
goes. He nets fish at sea. 

Another man. With the other owners of the village he stays 
in the temporary house in the garden. He steals (i.e. commits 
' Always used in restoration of die dead to life in the legends. 

90 Social Organization 

adultery) with the wife of Groundward Branch. Her lice he 
delouses. The woman’s child sees the man delousing her. 
They appear back in the village, the fishers. 

The fother, he comes. Hibiscus he placed in his hair. The 
child gave it away. He said, “ My father, you run quickly. 
My mother her lice he delouses in the garden.” 

“ Ya ! Owners of the village these. I, I was netting fish.” 
Their mother, dead. Her leaves fallen, bare. Night falls. 
They sleep. It dawns. They go, brothers together, their mother 
to her. Beneath their mother they lie. Saido stripped of her 
sere leaf, her children lying below her is happy. 

The Saido tree is deciduous. Its large broad leaves turn 
brilliant scarlet before falling. Its nuts taste somewhat like 
salted peanuts and are almond shaped. 

The legend chronicles the falling of the Saido leaves. It tells 
how the Saido branches walked abroad, met with ill-fate from 
an old witch woman, except the youngest brother who restored 
his elder brothers by magic powerful in restoring life. They 
burnt and ate the witch, found the women who had spoken 
of them as their husbands, and married them. 

Then the eldest branch’s wife committed adultery, village 
incest with another owner of the village. The branch brothers 
deserted the village together, and went back to their mother’s 
place, beneath the Saido tree. 

I quote the one legend only in this place. It is the legendary 
equivalent of the cases of Kopu and his wife, and of Alo, Emu and 
Bobo that I saw. 

It may be added that the pattern of the neighbouring 
Trobriand Islands is closely related to that of Dobu. According 
to Dr. Malinowski incest with a clan “ sister ” who is not a real 
sister or else parallel cousin traceable by geneaological record is 
there also customary. “ To use a somewhat loose comparison, 
it figures in the tribal life of the Trobrianders much in the 
same way as that in which adultery figures in French novels. 
There is no moral indignation or horror about it, but the 
transgression encroaches upon an important institution and 
cannot be officially regarded as permissible.” Unofficially 
it is admired and considered the thing to do. 

The comparison with French novels is not very loose in the 
case of Dobu, for the theme enters into Dobuan folklore almost 
as prominently as it is in its actual occurrence in fact. Such 
incest is one expression of the conflict between the grouping of 
the various clan susu and the institution of the family by marriage 

The Legend of the Saido Sere 91 

which we have seen to have very wide ramification in Dobu, 
and which ramifies widely in the Trobriands also. 

From this conflict in Dobu comes a state of mutual watch 
and ward over each other by husband and wife, a state carried 
to an extreme of indignity as a normal phenomenon. From 
the conflict comes also frequent attempts at suicide which do 
not usually even attain to the dignity of being fatal. 

From this conflict in the Trobriands our information is full 
as to this latter suicidal motif. Crimes of passion are frequent, 
and while most of them are as non-fatal, rather more appear to 
succeed in attaining fatality than in Dobu. 

Marital life based on the relative independence of women 
secured by legal susu right and affected strongly by a conflict 
between susu and marital grouping, elaborated into many 
ramifications, is a phenomenon removed by a very wide gulf 
from our own institution. The intensification of the susu versus 
marital grouping conflict by exogamous marriage into villages 
that are believed to be enemy in their use of the black arts of 
sorcery and witchcraft against the home village w’here one’s 
susu are village owners, is not a phenomenon remotely similar 
to any element in our own institution of marriage. 

Adultery in Dobu is typically village incest, an affair socially 
admired, although clandestine and distinctly below board, 
generally recognized as common, present in the folklore, and 
so taught to the children. It is a village reaction against 
exogamous marriage w'ith the enemy, the stranger, the resultant- 
from-marriage. Neither suicide nor adulteries in this area 
can be set down as the concern of the human heart bared to the 
eternal verities. Both alike are the concern of the native heart 
operating to a culturally and socially determined rhythm of a 
very particular quality. Thus, where we find jealousy in marriage 
here, w’e have a reaction against a kin-group’s antagonism to 
outsiders brought into contact with the kin-group by marriage. 
Where we find attempted suicide here, we have an expression 
of desperate appeal from the outsider that often functions in 
modifying the effects of the kin-group’s antagonism towards 
him or her, or in cases of the suicide’s death, towards others. 
Jealousy, incest, crime of passion, divorce, are all related 
intimately to the picture of the widower saying farewell to his 
children for ever that we saw expressed in the widower’s song : — 

“ Lie awake, lie awake, and talk 
at the midnight hour ...” 

This fact remains true, although adultery in Dobu sometimes 

92 Social Organization 

is not between the members of the village kin and suicide is 
sometimes not committed in the village of the spouse b^ause 
of marital disagreement there. Adultery, if successful, is the 
mark of greatness from the individual’s point of view. It is 
easiest in arrangement between members of the village, and 
such adultery is best protected from revenge. Nevertheless, 

I knew of cases of adultery that were not in the commoner 
pattern. When one marries into the enemy, so that a husband 
is apt to blame his bodily weakness in the morning on his wife s 
witchcraft during the night, and when suspicion of the black 
art causing one’s sickness falls often on the mother-in-law, a 
high appreciation of adultery is not altogether unreasonable. 
But for all that, however highly adultery in general may be 
evaluated, and despite the fact that it often goes outside the 
village boundary, it has definitely been drawn into an expression 
of village solidarity versus the marital grouping’s solidarity. 
Similarly, siiicide was sometimes done in the old days by a man 
or a woman going unarmed into an enemy place and being 
killed there. But the commoner method still persists — an 
attempt on one’s life in the village of the spouse as a protest 
against misconduct by the spouse and as a reflection on his or 
her village. Just as sometimes there is a law-breaker found, 
as old Sibor living w'ith his children in his widow’s village, 
profiting by the fact that his children formed the village majority, 
or Alo marrying his village “ sister ” {nuuna), so on occasion 
adultery passes outside the traditional pattern, on occasion 
suicide is of a different order. Human nature, always wider in 
its potentialities than the limited expression it can secure in a 
social code, breaks through the code ; on the whole, however, 
the code holds strong. 

To the student of native literatures it will be interesting to 
observe how faithfully the Dobuan unwritten literature of 
dance, song, and legend, mirrors the social code. It does not 
depict the law-breaker. Rather it expresses the law impinging 
on the individual at its most tragic points. The father leaving 
his children, the husband leaving his wife and returning to 
his mother’s place, both because of the overwhelming power of 
village solidarity — such are its themes as we have seen it. It 
is of the same materials as all the world’s tragedy, the social 
code, itself a solidified expression of some elements in human 
nature and felt as a force within, not merely as an external 
compulsion, at war with the wider elements in human nature 
that are denied social expression and validation becatise of 

The Legend of the Saido Sere 93 

the necessary limitations of cultures ; the magnification of 
humanity by contrast with the narrower code, itself a solidified 
expression of some element in human nature, the triumph of 
the code. 

To the student of jurisprudence it will be interesting to 
observe how the native unwritten literature is itself a con- 
servative force. Together with the ridicule of offenders it is 
a conservative agent towards the maintenance of the social 
code. Private rights in property are protected otherwise — ^by 
fear of magical sanctions theft is discouraged as in the use 
of the tabu disease incantations, and by appeal to public 
sympathy as in the latnoa custom of naming trees after a family 
disaster and destroying the trees if a thief pilfers from them. 
The village solidarity is secured by the village acting as a body 
in expelling any outsider who has no right in the village. It is 
this right of expulsion that is presented in the folklore and so 
taught to the children. Hence adults accept it as a matter of 

Chapter II 


Sketch of the Concept of Ritual 

When the steep hill slopes of Dobu Island or Tewara Island 
are yellow with the wilting leaves of the long staked yam vines 
in the frequent garden patches, the casual European visitor 
sees little interest in the return of the harvest season. It is 
true that the yellowing patches perched insecurely on the steep 
heights and in the hanging valleys are picturesque. They are 
that, and little more. 

To the native his small garden patch is his refuge against 
hunger in the coming year. He has fasted many times the 
previous year to save a good supply of seed against this season. 
He and his wife have brooded over the patch for the year like 
parents over a sickly child. The garden is more to him than a 
garden merely. It is a place of ritual. Now with the maturing 
of the crop his hopes or his fears are coming to fruition. If 
the season is bad he will not blame the scanty crop on lack of 
care, but rather he will fear that his ritual has lost some 
of its potency. 

The garden is a sacred place. To understand gardening in 
Dobu, we must first have understanding, not only of the social 
organization, but also of the Dobuan conception of creation 
and of the sacred. 

Creation in Dobu is explained by the metamorphosis of some 
natural thing into another. Language is specialized to express 
the conception of metamorphosis. Thus gurewa means a 
stone, egurewa to become a stone by metamorphosis from 
something else, manua means a bird, emanua to become a bird 
by metamorphosis. Similarly, the prefix e placed before any 
noun signifies metamorphosis into the object signified by the 
noun. In the beginning of time various human persons 
emanua nidi, changed into birds. Thus birds came to be. 
Inconsistently enough, various birds hatched eggs from which 
issued the first human beings upon earth. 


Sketch of the Concept of Ritual 95 

In truth, the Dobuan does not push hard upon logic in his 
account of Creation. He does not notice that one legend conflicts 
with another. No one Dobuan has ever attempted a composition 
of the various legends that contain accounts of origins. Meta- 
morphosis provides a ready account of origins provided it is 
tacitly assumed that A precedes B in one connection, although 
B precedes A in another connection. 

Various human beings changed into tree form, others became 
spirits such as those who now blow breath from their mouths, 
so making the winds. From one mango tree the sea issued, 
and various sea monsters promptly carved the sea channels and 
straits through the land. Fire came from the pubes of an old 
woman. Yams came and grew from humans in metamorphosis. 

There is no one Creation chant, only a number of separate 
legends. Many of these legends are family secrets. Many 
again are known to nearly every'one. 

The legends that have within them the account of how humans 
derive from a bird ancestry are known to the many members 
of each totem in common. The legend of how the sea issued 
from a mango tree is possessed by certain families only, but they 
tell it freely to listeners of other families who wish to hear it. 
The same is true of the legend of the origin of fire, and of a 
great number of legends, a few of which deal with origins. 

There are other legends again that are closely knit up with 
ritual. These are kept by the family lines who own them with 
complete secrecy. Thus only families who perform garden 
ritual know the legend of how yams originated by metamorphosis 
from humans. The owners of ritual will tell non-owners and 
children freely that yams are really human beings in meta- 
morphised form, but not a word more. The names of the first 
ancestors who changed themselves into yams or who begat 
children that were yams, not ordinary mortals, are names of 
power in the ritual to grow yams. Such names are kept secret 
in the families who own the ritual, together with the legend. 
Similarly the names of the ancestors whose powers are enlisted 
in ritual to make love, or to make sorcery, together with the 
fragmentary legends of the origin of love or of sorcery, are kept 
secret in the family lines that own the ritual. 

The ritual of Dobu consists essentially in the use of incanta- 
tions in the performance of certain activities such as canoe 
making and fishing-net making, in agriculture, in soliciting 
presents of valuables in the annual exchanges made by the long 
overseas expeditions, in the creating of love, in the making of 

96 The Garden 

wind and rain, in the causing and the curing of disease, and 
in the causing of death. These are the most striking fields in 
which incantation is used, but it ramifies still more widely. 
Incantations exist also to strengthen the memory, to inflict 
mosquito plagues upon others, to exorcise them from oneself, 
to make coconut and betel palms bear, to create pregnancy and 
to prevent unwelcome visitors from visiting again. 

These incantations are often supplemented by the obligatory 
use of certain leaves, roots, and fluids, and these auxiliaries 
are believed to have power in their own right, so that a man 
who does not know an incantation may boast of the power of 
the root or the leaf or the fluid which he knows only ; but in 
most of these cases he is making the best of his ignorance. 
Were he able to obtain the incantation he would certainly go 
to great pains in acquiring and memorising it, and he would 
be prepared to pay for the knowledge fairly heavily as native 
w’ealth goes ; for the incantations are the most private of private 
property. They are always mumbled in a sing-song undertone 
and never heard by others gratuitously. A pair of men engaged 
in the learning take the utmost care to prevent eavesdropping, 
usually resorting to a remote part of the bush for the purpose. 
For the most part the incantations keep within the family, and 
different families possess different knowledge. In these days 
workboys in possession of their earnings for two years or so 
of indentured labour, sometimes sell an incantation to a friend 
who is not a close relative, a friend made on a white man’s 
plantation, and in one case I know of, two English pounds, being 
the wages of four months’ indentured labour, passed for a 
single incantation ; but native wealth cannot buy the knowledge 
between non-related persons as a rule. 

Knowledge of incantation is never given freely, or is never 
phrawd as being given freely. A parent always commands a 
child s services, a mother’s brother always commands a sister’s 
child s services, and gifts of ritual knowledge from elder to 
youth are looked upon as the reward for these services. 

It is the knowledge of the fact that indebtedness for incanta- 
tions must be worked off heavily at home in the normal course 
of things, that makes a workboy ready to part with the fruit of 
four months indentured labour to another more fortunate 
friend, in return for an incantation. The youths plan and work 
for the knowledge. If a younger brother has helped his father 
or his mother’s brother in gardening more than his elder 
brother, he will probably be given all the ritual knowledge of 

Sketch of the Concept of Ritual 97 

his two guardians. The elder brother must reconcile himself 
to losing it for ever. One brother does not share such a legacy 
\vith another brother. The system is one of unameliorated 
competition, the fruits of success being most jealously guarded 
from theft by close secrecy. I had a great deal of difficulty 
myself in succeeding in gaining my own knowledge of ritual. 
I had to penetrate into what is a close family secret, into what 
is the reward of long toil and services even within the family, 
and into a secret possession which one brother will not share 
with another. I had, moreover, to be trusted by my informant 
not to let the knowledge go further than myself. In the native 
view, ritual is the truest native wealth, more valuable than house, 
canoe, or ornaments. It is the means of sustaining all important 
social goods. Its exclusive possession by a few persons brings 
them in a small income by its practice for others who do not 
own it themselves. 

Knowledge of herbs, roots, and saps of trees that are believed 
to be auxiliary to incantation, is like incantation itself, kept as 
secret as possible within the owning family lines, and secret 
by the heir from his non-inheriting brothers and sisters. 

Behind this ritual idiom there stands a most rigid and never- 
questioned dogma, learnt by every child in infancy, and forced 
home by countless instances of everyday usage based upon 
it and meaningless without it or in its despite. This dogma, in 
general, is that effects are secured by incantation, and that 
without incantation such effects cannot come to pass. In its 
particular application it is most strongly believed that yams will 
not grow, however well the soil is prepared and cared for, without 
the due performance of the long drawn-out ritual of gardening 
incantations ; canoe lashing will not hold the canoe together 
at sea, however firmly the creeper may be wound and fastened, 
without the appropriate incantation being performed over its 
lashing ; fish nets will not catch fish unless they have been 
treated with incantation ; it is impossible to induce an overseas 
partner in the annual overseas exchange of gifts to give one a 
gift unless one has first prepared his mind and influenced his 
susceptibilities with the co-operation of a certain supernatural 
being that one directs to one’s aid ; and disease is never caused 
or never cured but by incantation ; death is caused always 
so (death by poison alone excepted) ; “if we call upon the 
wind (in incantation) she comes — if we do not call, dead calm.” 
Love between man and woman is due to incantation, and by 
incantation alone can it be called forth. In brief, there is no 

98 The Garden 

natural theor}" of yam grow'th, of the powers of canoe lashings 
or fish nets, of gift exchange in strange places overseas, of 
disease and death, of wind and rain, of love between man and 
woman. All these things cannot possibly exist in their own right. 
All are supernaturally created by the ritual of incantation with 
the help of the appropriate technological processes in agriculture, 
canoe making, fishing preparation, and with the help of more 
mundane wooing in overseas gift exchange and in love-making, 
but without any such extra work in making wind and rain, 
disease and death or in their counteracting (apart only from 
the practice of bleeding the patient in some cases of illness). 
This latter type of unaided incantation expresses truly the 
attitude of the native towards incantation throughout. It is 
the really important factor in producing an effect. Technology 
and mundane measures are by no means despised, for they 
are often essential and are recognized as such ; but it is most 
firmly believed that agricultural technology alone and gift- 
giving and serenading alone, as two typical examples, will 
never grow yams or induce love. 

We have already seen that legend in certain cases is closely 
implicated with ritual. Four generations of human ancestors 
are known to the native. The generation before that is the 
generation of Creation by metamorphosis. Its reality is 
vouched for in legend. The occurrences of Creation do 
not live in legend alone, however, as events divided strictly 
from the present by an intervening gulf of time. There is 
a firm belief in continuity. Although a legendary scene is 
laid in the time of Creation, its actors still live, their influences 
still prevail. Thus, an underwater moving rock called 
Nuakekepaki still menaces and often overturns canoes on 
the open seas. Legend tells how Nuakekepaki is a deep 
sea moving rock-man, who, to pay for a wife taken from the 
land-dwellers, overturned canoes to obtain the valuables 
they contained, which he duly paid to his mothers-in-law 
and their brothers as the kzvesi or bride price. All that can 
be made of this character is that he is a rock in one aspect, 
a man in another, and that as a rock he has supernatural 
qualities. He still overturns canoes to obtain the valuables 
they contain, apart from his former duty to his parents-in-law 
in the time of the first ancestors. 

Tobwaliton and Tobebeso are two sea monsters that 
appeared at the creation of the sea and indirectly played a 
part in connection with its creation. When I was in the 

Sketch of the Concept of Ritual 99 

field they were credited with counteracting the attempts 
of the local rain-maker, an old woman, to break a long drought 
which occurred. A monstrous dog called Weniogwegwe, 
that dates from the Creation, still roams in the forest at night, 
and many men have seen his great red eyes ; one, I met, had 
even given his flank a resounding whack with a paddle. He 
is as big as a house and his eyes are like fires. In the time 
of the first ancestors men ate food uncooked until a woman 
took fire from her pubes and cooked food with it. Still the 
kaiana fire issues from the pubes of women, and there is not 
a man who has not seen the fire flooding the night with light, 
or hovering to and fro in the air — and not slept for hours 
after, but huddled about the fire in fear of witchcraft and 
death in consequence of it.^ Kasabwaibwaileta, Bunelala, 
Nemwadole, Wanoge and many other characters among the 
first ancestors still exist, and exert the same influence that 
legend vouches for their having exerted some five generations 
ago when existence first came into being and natural history 

Many of these characters, supernatural beings all, were 
human beings among the first ancestors, many again were 
a mysterious fusion of human and sub-human and super- 
human. In legend they behave as human, often with 
exceptional qualities however ; but they have taken to them- 
selves immortality and other supernatural qualities. They 
are not mortals, but kasa sona, “ born with the sun and the 
moon and the earth — we are but newly come ” as the term 
was interpreted to me. Man of today has power over some, 
but not all of these beings, by incantation, nor have these 
independent power to resist incantation or to act without it. 
When incantation fails, however, or rather is delayed in 
succeeding as during a drought, the few of the beings kasa 
sona who are not called upon in incantation, may be credited 
with frustrating the normal course of things. Such was 
the work of Tobwaliton and Tobebeso that I referred to above. 
A few such beings exist and act independently. So the face 
of the ritualist is saved in time of trouble. 

The class of independent supematurals such as Tobwaliton 
and Tobebeso, Nuakekepaki, Weniogwegwe, and the kaiana 
fire from old women’s pubes, are referred to freely. The 
legends vouching for them are not secret. On the other hand, 
the very names of supematurals such as Bunelala, Nemwadole, 
* As I have seen many times. 


The Garden 

and Wanoge, are close secrets. These are dependent super- 
naturals, a knowledge of whose names is an important element 
in the incantations which force them into the service of the 
ritualist. Kasabwaibwaileta is the only such dependent 
supernatural whose name and legend is circulated freely. 
Nemwadole, Wanoge and a host of others are most secret. 
Their names are never pronounced except in inaudible under- 
tone in actual ritual or in the seclusion where one man is 
teaching another ritual. 

Free use of their names such as I make here would be 
felt by the Dobuan magicians as worse than the greatest 
blasphemy would be to Christian believers. It combines 
the double offence of a slight to the supernatural whose name 
must not be taken in vain — in this case not taken at all — and 
also a slight to the economic system which is upheld by the 
secrecy of powerful information. Such a dual slight in one 
stroke is impossible with our comparative separation of Church 
and Commerce. Our own term “ blasphemy ” does not 
comprehend the magnitude of the offence. 

When a man has power to create love in a woman by 
incantation the content of his power is a power over a being 
kasa sona, Wanoge, who works under his complusion of ritual 
incantation to awaken love for him in the woman desired. 
Since many persons do not have this knowledge and power, 
he who knows the name Wanoge, the legend of Wanoge, and 
the incantation that throws Wanoge into helping him, keeps 
all this knowledge most secret. But since he is known to 
possess this power by others, they fee him to use it on their 
behalf. They, on their part, would look blank if the question 
“ who is Wanoge ” were put to them. If the man in 
possession of the ritual heard such a question put to non- 
possessors he would be most jealously enraged. 

Secrecy in possession is firmly kept, not ordy because of 
the pains taken to gain possession and the economic gains 
secured by exclusive possession, but because the world view 
of magic is one of contending magical forces. If the ritualist 
makes rain by incantation and rain does not come the ex- 
planation may be either independent supernaturals such as 
Tobwaliton and Tobebeso, as we have seen, or it may be that 
another ritualist elsewhere is making drought by incantation. 
If the ritualist makes healing by incantation and his patient 
dies it is because another ritualist elsewhere is making killing 
forces by incantation. If the ritualist uses incantations to 

Sketch of the Concept of Ritual ioi 

make his yams stay at home in his own garden at night and 
yet harvests a poor crop, then another ritualist elsewhere 
has succeeded in enticing his yams to leave his garden by 
night and enter the other’s garden. For one may observe 
that the other has harvested a good crop. If an enemy 
ritualist is trying to kill one by incantation of sorcery and 
one remains in good health, it is because one’s own protecting 
ritual against sorcery which one has been reciting has proved 
the stronger. All good luck is due to one’s ritual being stronger 
than the ritual of others, which is aimed at results contrary 
to one’s own aim. Accordingly it is most important that one 
should have strong ritual, and that one should not alienate 
it to others whose aims are likely to be directly contrary to 
one’s own. Hence, secrecy is the only safeguard, it is felt 
in Dobu. 

The ritual is most importantly a form of words addressed 
to the appropriate supematurals. It thus does not differ 
fundamently from the concept contained in our own religion 
— -namely, that words addressed apparently into vacancy can 
be heard by more than natural semi-personal Beings and that 
effects of human interest can be produced with the assistance 
of such Beings. There is a wide pantheon of such Beings 
in Dobu. Their attributes include omnipresence ; but they 
are not omnipotent. They are conceived as having themselves 
originated certain formulae in the beginning. They gave 
these formulae to certain of the descendants of their con- 
temporaries, the first ancestors of man. Such men have in 
these formulae, omnipotence. The Beings are become of 
their initial and only volition, impotent. They work the will 
of the possessor of the formula they created and bequeathed. 
If the human does not use his will and his formula they 
remain inert, their fires drawn. If two humans use their 
formula at the same time desiring incompatible services they 
are at the service of him whose formula is the more authentic, 
the more perfectly memorized, and the more perfectly handed 
down without change or loss of content in its transmission 
from one generation to another. 

If then we come upon a ritual addressed to seed yams, 
let it not be supposed that a man is muttering a form of words 
to yams merelv. He is addressing a Personal Being as truly 
as we are when we address God. For the yams are personal 
beings in metamorphized form. If we come upon a ritual 
addressed to a canoe-lashing creeper let it not be thought 


The Garden 

that a man is muttering a form of words to a bush creeper 
merely. The bush creeper is a personal being in meta- 
morphized form. If we come upon a ritual addressed to 
winning the heart of a far-off woman let there not be seen 
a man addressing vacancy, but here the human ritualist, and 
there omnipresent in vacancy the unseen Supernatural, mediate 
between the ritualist and the woman of his desire in her place 
apart. If we find a ritual to make the wind, we must not 
see a mortal only flinging a spell into the unhearing air, but 
here the human ritualist and in the spaces the omnipresent 
every hearing Supernatural who in the beginning ceded his 
volition to the ancestors of the ritualist by making over the 
spell to them without hearing which he will blow no great 
wind in gigantic breaths of air from his mouth, but upon 
hearing which he must needs do so, unless some other human 
ritualist who knows his spell better than the first ritualist, 
commands him to cease. 

Here we have the principles of the Dobuan concept of 
the sacred. 

We may now turn directly to the Dobuan garden, with 
the preliminary knowledge necessary to understand the native 
gardening procedure in its most unfamiliar aspect. 


Social Organization in Gardening 

It has been already shown that a husband owns his own 
seed, descended from the seed used by his mother, his 
mother’s brother and so back along the distaff line, while 
a wife owns her own seed of equivalent descent within the 
ancestral line of her sum. It has been shown how at betrothal 
the mother-in-law, to be, gives her son-in-law, to be, a digging 
stick saying, “ go, make a garden.” Then the son-in-law- 
labours gardening with his parents-in-law while the daughter- 
in-law also labours gardening with her parents-in-law. The 
parents-in-Iaw thus have privileged inspection of the seed 
and the growth of the seed of their future proposed resultant- 
from- marriage. If the seed proves unsatisfactory in quantity 
or in quality they may decline to allow the marriage to 
proceed. If the proposed resultant-from-marriage produces 
a good garden to their satisfaction, then the economic exchanges 

Social Organization in Gardening 103 

to validate marriage are initiated. First must come the garden 

Not only the proposed son-in-law and proposed daughter- 
in-law must work with their respective parents-in-law, but 
also the lad’s true brothers and sisters must help him and 
his future parents-in-law, and the girl’s true brothers and 
sisters must help her and her future parents-in-law. These 
brothers and sisters of the betrothed pair must, like the 
betrothed themselves, abstain from food and drink in the 
presence of their brother’s or sister’s future parents-in-law. 

At this period the children must help not only their future 
parents-in-law, but also their own parents in gardening. Hence 
a lad whose brother is about to be married receives the news 
with depression. It promises such an excess of work that 
sometimes nowadays a lad in such a position runs away in- 
continent to seek work with a white man. This procedure 
enrages his elders, but they can do nothing about it as they are 
not forewarned of his intention. The old men say that recruited 
labour has depleted their garden resources ; the seed now 
saved is less than it was. I do not know whether this is true 
or not. Certainly the Dobuan area is poor in gardens. Each 
year the saving of enough seed for the next year is accomplished 
against the pressure of hunger, and undoubtedly usually 
was, although the Mission state that bumper native crops, 
such as are not known now, used to be harvested in the earlier 
days of the Mission in good seasons. The area, a poor one 
to begin with, has certainly given a heavy toll of labour in- 
dentured to the white man. 

When betrothal has changed to marriage the child-in-law 
with his or her brothers and sisters no longer work the gardens 
of the parents-in-law and the child-in-law respectively. 
In the ensuing years the clearing of the bush and the planting 
are done by co-operative labour and families connected by 
marriage help one another in their respective gardens in this 
work. But in the subsequent work of the year each pair, 
man and wife, work by themselves their two gardens. 
Unmarried children work as before with their parents only. 
The work (under surveillance) of child-in-law with his own 
brothers’ and sisters’ help is over. Betrothal often lasts two 
or three years, however, before the economic validations 
are finally made. 

I had little opportunity to examine the social organization 
of communal labour at bush clearing and planting of the 

The Garden 


garden, as much of it was over when I first landed in the 
Dobuan district. I was ignorant of the language and without 
an interpreter. During my first month there I was treated 
with hostility. I was not told when gardening was being 
done, despite my requests. The first night after my landing 
in Tewara Island at about midday, the men came back from 
the palolo fishing on the reef fifteen miles away at about 2 in 
the morning. They were threatening to my face. They 
went away, climbed the hill, took out their spears, and debated 
coming to spear me. Finally they put their spears away. 
From the usual Dobuan custom in regard to unguarded 
women, and from their jealousy in watching over their women, 
they suspected me and their women whom they had left on 
the island of the worst. Hostility was still active while the 
last remnants of bush clearing and the latest gardens were 
being planted — now it was believed that I was a spy and a 
forerunner of white intrusion and interference with native 
custom, such as Mission and Government accomplish where 
they settle. Accordingly, I saw but one piece of communal 
garden work which I stumbled upon by accident. I was, 
at this time, living alone in a deserted place by the shore. After 
six weeks or so of this I was granted land in a village on the 
hill. There I had my hut built. I entered the village 
without further hostility. I had my own garden land cleared 
and my own garden made, a month later than the last native 
garden was made. In my own garden I had two of the chief 
magicians of my village perform the usual garden ritual ; 
so I witnessed it all without offending others by wandering 
into their gardens. For, as I found, the garden is entirely 
private, once communal clearing and planting is over, to man 
and wife, who may approach each other intimately there. 
Further by planting my own garden late and having it done 
strictly according to native custom, I made up leeway that 
I had been shut out of by hostility towards me when native 
bush clearing and garden planting was being completed — 
that is, leeway in seeing the ritual. I saw only the one truly 
native organization of labour, for nearly everyone in the island 
came to clear my land and plant it. The ritual done over 
my garden then, and subsequently, was true to native custom. 
After planting, the two magicians and myself alone went to 
my garden for ritual or plain gardening work. 

Neddidiway, a widow of the White Pigeon village, had 
her land cleared and planted by her mother, herself and her 

Social Organization in Gardening 105 

sons, by the members of three families of the Brown Eagle 
village, by two men of the Green Parrot village, and by most 
of the other members of her own village. Of the members 
of her own village Togo was absent, Togo, the wastrel when 
work was forward, and also Yogalu, adopted member of her 
village, permanently resident in his wife’s village. Yogalu’s 
son was present, however, a Green Parrot lad. The other 
Green Parrot man present was the husband of Mwedi, (Mwedi 
also of Yogalu’s place, also adopted into the White Pigeon 
village in Tewara) who was there with Mwedi. 

Neddidiway’s dead husband had been a Brown Eagle 
man ; hence the presence of over half of the Brown Eagle 
village. There is therefore co-operation between all members 
of the one village, aided by many of the village with whom 
the person who is having the garden made is or was connected 
by marriage. Husbands may go with their wives, as Tawa, 
himself not directly connected, went with Mwedi, a village 
sister (tasina) of Neddidiway. On the other hand Wonoloi 
did not go with her husband, Pogudu of the Brown Eagle 
village. Pogudu went by himself, he being related to 
Neddidiway’s dead husband, a village brother (tasina) of his. 
Yogalu’s son, who was brother’s son, kedeana^ to Neddidiway 
went in place of Yogalu. 

Bush clearing is done by men and women together, the 
men cutting away the heavier timber, the women pulling 
and cutting away the slighter growth. Some of the wood 
is cut and taken away as firewood by the women. The scrub 
is left to dry in the sun. After it is well dried it is fired by 
a man. Planting follows usually the day after firing, the men 
wielding the digging sticks, the women following behind 
inserting and covering up the yam seed. The organization 
of labour is as- for bush clearing. Then follows the privacy 
of the garden. The wife weeds the soil and hills up the plants 
after they are grown. The husband cuts stakes and trains 
the yam vines up them. They both brood over the garden 
with frequent ritual through the year until harvest. The 
woman digs the harvest. The husband stands sentinel over 
the wife, playing with the children it may be, at all events 
making sure of his wife’s fidelity, when all the work there 
is to do is woman’s work as in weeding or in digging the 
yam harvest. For a part of this leisure time he may occupy 
himself with an adjoining banana patch. The men take 
care of banana patches in all respects, even weeding them ; 

io6 The Garden 

but they are little work compared to the work of the yam 

The harvesting is spread over many forenoons. Each 
forenoon a few baskets of yams are taken home and stored 
in a family’s special food house in the village. There is no 
display of garden yields. No one pries into anyone else’s 
harvest. At harvest time each married couple keeps rigidly 
to itself in its own two gardens. Straying children belonging 
to some one else are driven out if they are ignorant enough 
to venture in with a stern “ what, do you expect something 
to eat here ”. They never stray, except to lead in an 
anthropologist who wants to take a snapshot — even then 
they do not escape the sharp rebuke. 

The widows and widowers of the gardening year work 
the gardens of their parents-in-law or elder sisters and brothers- 
in-law, work without remuneration and akin to the work 
under surveillance that initiates marriage. They also work 
the gardens of their dead spouses under surveillance. Their 
own gardens must be worked by their brothers and sisters 
or sisters’ children. 

At harvest time there are ceremonial exchanges of food 
between villages connected by marriage, and between villages 
between whom death has just severed a marriage during the 
year. These exchanges will be described later when we 
come to discuss the economics of exchange. 


The Ritual of the Garden 

Without the magical ritual no native garden is made. It 
is believed most strongly that without certain rites and forms 
of words the seed yams will not multiply and grow. In Dobu 
Island, where the Mission has stoutly opposed this dogma 
for nearly forty years, the rites and incantations are still 
deemed necessary and never omitted. In Tewara Island, 
where the Mission has not been, I asked how it came about 
that the Mission whites and their introduced Polynesian 
teachers grew yam gardens without the incantations. I was 
met with the retort that, while it was true the Polynesian 
teachers did not use Dobuan magic, it was not true that they 
grew good yam crops. Always their crops were nothing 
or next to nothing. The reason was that they did not know or 

The Ritual of the Garden 107 

use the rites and incantations. Thus report has falsified the 
evidence to sustain the Dobuan dogma. 

In the process of witnessing the long drawn-out garden 
ritual I was offered various explanations of it by various 
persons. These I shall give first. Once when Magile (the 
woman who did the woman’s ritual in my garden) was 
charming over a bundle of smouldering green leaves in my 
garden her son said to me ; 

“ The Trobrianders charm out aloud. Here, on the 
contrary, we murmur underbreath. The yams hear. They 
say among themselves ‘ this is our language — not loud like 
everyday talk ’. You must understand that yams are persons. 
Alo recently told you of it. If we call aloud the yams say 
‘ how is this — are they fighting among themselves’. But 
when we charm softly they listen to our speech attentively. 
They grow big for our calling on them.” 

In the Trobriands, incantations are chanted aloud. It is 
not feared that the right to use an incantation may be stolen 
by an unprivileged overhearer. Right of possession is socially 
acknowledged and not tampered with by non-possessors. 
In Dobu, on the contrary, anyone overhearing another charming 
aloud, can memorise the incantation and use it himself. 
Eavesdroppers on one man teaching another an incantation 
aloud, can by successful eavesdropping, steal the magical power. 
In practice, precautions against eavesdroppers are rigidly 
maintained. Dobu has a pattern of possible theft that is not 
known in the Trobriands. The above native statement is 
a rationalization of this fact in terms of the yams liking soft 
speech, underbreath, rather than speech aloud. 

Alo had recently told me a legend in which the yams 
figured as persons. I had not known whether this was a 
figurative device of legend or an expression of a fact of literal 
belief. The statement of Magile’s son, Kinosi, pointed to 
the latter alternative. Some nights later I said to Alo : 

“ Kinosi said in the garden yams are persons. How is this ? ” 

“ Yams are persons,” said Alo — " what else ? Like women, 
they give birth to children. As my grandmother gave birth 
to children, among them my mother, as she gave birth to 
me and as my daughter will bear children, and they my grand- 
children, when I am dead — such is also the way of yams.” 

” But,” I said, “ how is it yams are persons ? Do persons 
stay still always ? ” 

Alo had his counter-statement. 


The Garden 

“ At night they come forth from the earth and roam about. 
For this reason, if we approach a garden at night we tread very 
quietly. Just as if we startle a man with an abrupt shout — 
or with a dead snake concealed behind our back — he starts 
back in fear and later is angry — so we approach a garden 
very quietly at night. We do not dig the harvest when the 
sun is low in the morning (the usual time for garden work). 
We wait till the sun has mounted. Then we know they are 
back. If we dig in the early morning how should we find 
yams ? Nothing would be there. We do not dig early. 
It is bomama (our sacred prohibition) of the garden.” 

This statement proved to be no spontaneous argument, but 
a direct statement of traditional belief. I enquired if the vine 
and the root tubers walked about at nights entire. My enquiry 
was cast in all seriousness and received with all seriousness. 

“ No ! The vines remain. You may see them steadfast 
any night in the garden. The tubers alone emerge from the 
ground and walk the bush tracks in the night.” 

Later I was to learn, in complete accordance with these 
early statements, that incantations based upon the believed 
mobility of yams in the night were generally practised. Later, 
too, I heard several casual references to the nocturnal prowlings 
of yams. One man peering out of my house into the pouring 
rain one night said, as an example of this ; 

“ This is the moon of deepest darkness. It is the kaniana 
of the yams. The yams their time. Now they roam in the 
forest.” {Kaniana is rain produced as a by-product of certain 
supernatural events.) 

Later I learned again that the comparison between human 
child-bearing and yam seed fertility is in its most literal sense 
insisted upon. Each sum family line has its own line of seed. 
It is pictured that one human family line has its one seed 
family line that will grow for it. But that seed line will not 
grow for a stranger family line ; just as if the retainers of one 
house will work for the descendants of the blood of that house, 
but not for another house, the retainers and their descendants 
after them. Seed yams are not inherited outside the susu or given 
away outside the susu — this fact assumes in native expression 
an aspect of a human line of descent that is served and can be 
served only by one certain yam line of descent — the faithful 
retainers of the human line, faithless to other human family lines. 

After I had arrived at this stage, I once said, in the hope 
that provocation might elucidate matters further, that one 

The Ritual of the Garden 109 

man (whom I did not name) had told me that yams were not 
persons. This statement was strictly untrue. My two in- 
formants both assumed the extremely disgusted expression which 
means emphatic negation, and Alo said curtly and forcibly : 

“ Yams are persons, with ears. If we charm they hear.” 

Next day he showed me the ears, organs of hearing, the 
several tendril buds about the growing point of the vine. The 
growing point buds are no more ears than an ear of corn is 
an organ of hearing. In Dobu the ears of the vine are most 
literally organs of hearing, however. 

In the elowaila, the winding of the vines about the stick, 
some only of the plants are charmed. The remainder are 
wound without further ceremony. I said to Kinosi : 

“ Some of the plants you charm — others not. What 
of the others ? How will they grow as big as those charmed ? ” 

To which Kinosi : 

“ Seedling yams are as men. They have understood. 
One says ‘ that there he charms. What about me ? ’ O he 
is angry and he shoots up strongly.” 

At a rite with burning green leaves and so producing a 
cloud of smoke, the charmer’s husband said : 

“ The yams see it. They snuff it in to get its odour. They 
forsake the kebudi (stick for the climbing tendrils), climb over 
it, and trail down again.” 

It will be apparent from these various statements that 
the yams are treated as highly personal beings. The word 
tomot is used freely of them. Tomot is the only word that 
covers man, woman, and child, irrespective of age or sex. 
It also connotes native as opposed to belonging to the white 
man when used adjectivally. This latter usage contains 
the prevalent idea that the white man is “ another kind ”, 
not really a human person in the native sense, but a being with 
different qualities from the native. The Dobuan will class yams 
with his own people as personal beings, but he excludes white men. 
In fact, he has indeed the more friendly feeling for the yams. 

After bush clearing and burning off, which need not detain 
our attention, comes planting. The planting always com- 
mences from the inland border of the clearing and proceeds 
seawards. The inland border of the garden is called by a 
term which I may translate arbitrarily as top-side. The 
seawards border of the garden is called by a term which I 
may translate equally arbitrarily as bottom-side. The two 
other sides we may call side, simply. (The true native terms 


The Garden 

are kaikai, kunukunuwana and nana respectively — there is 
no true translation but I have fabricated translations in order 
to avoid possible later embarrassment.) Long poles which 
we may call length-sticks (in order to avoid calling them 
eketosika) run from top-side to bottom-side, each about eight 
feet apart from its neighbour. At right angles to the length 
sticks from side to side go cross-sticks (otherwise sigata). 
Length-sticks and cross-sticks mark off spaces about eight 
feet square in regular division of the garden clearing. The 
seeds are apportioned regularly over the garden, a fixed number, 
usually from three to four, in each marked-off square. Big 
yams are rejected for seed as being a waste of good food. Small 
yams are rejected as being too small to nourish a good crop. 
Middle-sized yams alone are selected as seed. 

At sunrise on the day of planting, the ceremonial begins. 
Two squares of the number of the garden squares are selected 
for intensive ceremony. The seaward cross-stick of the 
centermost square is called the Place of the Magic Peg. Over 
the cross-stick the centermost square is called the Place of 
Pouring. About two or three squares inland from the center- 
most square, and within the same two length-sticks, a square 
is selected as the Place of the House Platform. Thus : 

The Ritual of the Garden hi 

Two small pegs called Boundary Catchers are planted 
in earth on each side of the cross-stick at the Place of the Magic 
Peg. The male magican plants these pegs intoning under- 
breath and inaudibly as he does it ; 


come down from above 
come break up the earth. 

my boundary catchers 
break the earth in all directions, 
your breaking up the earth 
letting light into it, 
my breScing up the earth 
letting light into it. 
the yams monotau'a, gelaboi 
my breaking up the earth 
letting light into it. 

In this spell the magican is associated with a certain super- 
natural termed Yabowaine. Beyond the fact that Yabowaine, 
like the Christian God, is of the Above, I could discover little 
about this supernatural. My best informant believed that 
the supernatural in question was only seen rarely as a small 
tree snake. 

The male ritualist now binds the two pegs, the Boundary 
Catchers, one on each side of the seaward cross-stick of the 
Place of Pouring, with nipuna creeper, binding each one around 
and then binding the two together. As he winds the creeper 
around the pegs he charms : 

Whose belt of red shell discs 
is it that I wind around, 

I bind around ? 
the woman bulelala 
her belt of red shell discs 
I bind around 
I bind around. 

seeing my yams they shout in amazement 

the way of carrying them is a different carrying. 

the way of covering them is a different covering. 

the shoots spring upwards, 
underground the shoots uncurl, 
many side shoots go outward. 

The woman Bulelala was the first woman to plant yams 
as food. Her spirit survives as a nocturnally active bird. 
The bird is said to come and hoot across newly made gardens. 
The bird does exist, but I cannot vouch for its habits. Belts 
are actually made of intricately plaited nipuna creeper, and 
such belts adorned with discs of a certain red shell are a very 
highly-valued ornament. Plain nipuna unadorned, unplaited, 
is used in this charm’s ritual. The words of the spell trans- 
form the plain material actually used into a valuable that 



The Garden 

is being ceremonially bound around the supernatural, Bulelala. 
This fictitiously costly, actually cheap, sacrifice to Bulelala 
is followed by a statement of anticipated results. In the 
first charm, calling upon the supernatural Yabowaine, there 
was only one line referring to anticipated results — “ the yams 
tnonolawa, gelaboi" (two varieties of the larger yams). Now, 
however, in the second charm a great crop is already specifically 
mentioned, a crop that will cause shouts of amazement and 
special devices for carrying and covering it. 

The male ritualist now crosses over the Place of the Magic 
Peg into the Place of Pouring. He prepares the earth for 
a square yard or so about by breaking up clods and digging 
into the earth with his hands charming as he does so : 

hill of the rocks, 
hill of the rocks. 

what do I delve, hurl behind me ? 
my feast of young food, 
my assembling of monolavia. 
seeing my yams they shout in amazement, 
one monolatca is a load set on your head, 
huge mwamwasipa 

I hurl from earth belly to earth back. 

Monolavia and mwamwasipa are larger varieties of yams. 
The Place of Pouring is alternatively called Earth-Belly. The 
Place of the Magic Peg is alternatively called Earth-Back. 
In the last line as the magican intones in a murmur “ I hurl 
from earth belly to earth back ” he throws back earth from 
the Place of Pouring, where he is squatting, towards the Place 
of the Magic Peg, which he has just left. 

While the male ritualist is engaged in this last performance, 
the female ritualist proceeds seawards to the garden bottom- 
side, and inland again to the Place of the Magic Peg, striking 
rocks and the scattered sticks left standing from the bush 
clearing for future vine supports, with the long leaves of the 
pies shrub. As she walks she charms : 

underneath the turtle 
turns on his side 
they pack up their possessions 
they go far away 
insect eaten leaf, 
sear leaf 

rotted, worm eaten leaf, 
turns on his side 
they pack up their possessions 
they go far away. 

At this stage she reaches the seaward fringe of the clearing 

The Ritual of the Garden 113 

and hurls the contaminated pies leaves seawards. She takes 
fresh pies leaves and strikes about anew coming inland. 

my friends where is your food ? 
much food is in my earth’s belly, 
your turning about, your returning, 
my turning about, my returning, 
new leaves sprouting on my taro 
new leaves sprouting on my ponake banana, 

1 take them in my hand, I release them. 

Here she comes back to the Place of the Magic Peg, and on 
the two pegs, Boundary Catchers, she lays the pies leaves 
that she used from the garden bottom-side coming inland. 

This spell is in one particular Dobuan pattern. It has 
two parts, the first being a removal of contamination, the 
second being positive in its direction. 

In the first line of the first part of the spell the turtle is 
neither an ordinary turtle nor yet ametaphor. He is a supernatural 
being conceived as being turtle- like, a turtle with a difference. 
He has his special name which like Yabowaine and Bulelala, 
is never applied to anything else and never taken as a personal 
name by a living person. This name is not taken in vain. 
It is a secret name hidden completely from the uninitiate. 
To know his name is in large measure to command him. 
Hence, his name must never be pronounced except when one 
has work for him to do. His name pronounced with the rest 
of the words of the spell, and with the correct rites is even 
more powerful. It is irresistible. But the mere pro- 
nunciation of the names is often enough. (I was cautioned 
severely for using the name of the gangosa disease once. 
I knew the spell for creating gangosa. I must not use even 
the bare name lest “ IT ” come to command and afflict all 
who were present with me with the sad disease of gangosa. 
There was no mistaking their fear.) 

The secrecy in which the names of the supernaturals are 
kept varies. Yabowaine was named by someone to the white 
missionaries as the Dobuan equivalent of God in rough native 
generalization — and his secrecy has been somewhat damaged 
by the association. Bulelala is a name assigned to a certain 
night bird, the present embodiment of the spirit of the woman 
who first grew yams. This concrete embodiment has led to 
the name Bulelala spreading somewhat. Even the partly 
uninitiate betray some emotion over the name. The name 
of the Turtle of the first spell used by the woman ritualist 
is a deep secret, however. So secret also are many of the 

II4 The Garden 

names that will be used in the following spells. The names 
Nebubunebubuero and Nemwadole, had I used them publicly, 
would have aroused such resentment in my teacher of magic 
that my learning of magic would have been over. I would 
have been giving names of power, giving power itself, to those 
who had no birth-right to such power, but who had to fee 
the special practitioners and possessors of such power to 
exercise it on their behalf. 

An essential element in the ritual is the use of the correct 
leaves, woods or creepers, traditionally associated with the 
spells. In Dobuan garden ritual these are not conceived as 
the greatest essential, the core of the magical power. The 
reason for this is that they are publicly exposed to the view 
of the uninitiate who help in the communal garden work. 
They cannot be kept secret, as the names of the supernaturals 
and the words of the spell are kept secret, and private to the 
magician. In garden ritual the spell is emphasized as the 
core of the power of the compulsion over nature exerted by 
the ritualist. But it is not always so. In the black art, the 
herbs employed are close secrets. Here the herb is often 
spoken of as the core of the magician’s power. 

But even where there is no secret as in the use of nipuna 
creeper to bind the pegs of the Place of the Magic Peg, or in 
the use of the pies leaves by the woman magician in her 
opening charm, great care is taken to secure the correct leaves 
or other vegetable product. Nipuna creeper and pies leaves 
are not usually difficult to obtain nearby, but other leaves that 
are used in later ritual are often difficult to find. In such 
cases, search is made without regard for time spent or labour. 
One of the best illustrative cases is a certain herb necessary 
to Trobriand garden magic which the Trobrianders pains- 
takingly collect in Dobuan districts or in Fergusson Island, 
sixty miles away overseas from their home. The correct 
herb must be obtained. The ritual is not performed until 
it is obtained. 

The pies plant used by the woman magician in her charm : 
“ underneath the turtle ” 

is none other than Cordyline terniinalis more commonly 
known by its Polynesian name, the ti plant. It is a plant 
that is of ceremonial importance over a wide Oceanic area. 
In the Admiralty Islands it is used in healing magic, and 
planted by the grave with a charm breathed into it to lay the 
spirit of the dead and prevent it causing trouble to the living. 

The Ritual of the Garden 115 

In New Britain it is called diwai belong tamberan, the 
shrub of the spirits of the dead and is planted in the gardens 
of the magicians.^ It is allied to the crotons planted over 
graveyards amongst the Massim, although the Massim use 
the coloured crotons for this purpose in preference to the 
green Cordyline terminalis. Codrington refers repeatedly 
to the use of the croton in the Solomons, Banks Islands and 
New Hebrides. He does not specify the variety, whether 
Cordyline terminalis or one of the coloured varieties. In the 
area covered by Codrington the plant is used by the ghost 
societies ceremonially.* 

In Niue, Cordyline terminalis is used ceremonially in 
first fruits ceremony,® and magically to make an unborn child 
strong.* In the Society Group the plant is associated with 
fire walking,® and the same is true of Fiji,® and of the Cook 
Group.* It is apparent that this plant has a widely spread 
ceremonial value in Oceania. From the more utilitarian 
point of view the root is cooked in the earth oven and eaten 
in many parts of Polynesia. The leaves are used to flavour 
taro in Dobu. 

We may return from these explanatory by-ways to our 
main road, the Dobuan ritual in progress. We left the woman 
magician laying down the leaves of the ti plant {pies) on the 
pegs driven in the earth at the seaward edge of the Place of 
Pouring. She now proceeds across the Place of Pouring 
and drives a peg in at the inland edge of the Place of Pouring, 
muttering the Yabowaine charm as the male ritualist had 
done before her. She winds green nipuna creeper about it 
muttering the Bulelala charm, also as the male ritualist. She 
breaks up the ground, previously broken in part by the male 
ritualist, the ground within the Place of Pouring. As she 
scratches the ground with her hands and breaks it up, she 
mutters the Hill of the Rocks charm over it, as her male pre- 
decessor did before her. The ground clawing with the bare 
hands, looks somewhat grotesque to the white onlooker. 

* Verbal communication from Mrs. R. Parkinson. 

* Codrington, The Melanesians, p. 83, pp. 210-11. See also Tamate 
societies, index references. 

’ E. M. Loeb, History and Traditions of Niue, Bulletin 32 of Bishop Bernice 
P. Museum, p. 174. 

‘ Percy Smith, Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. xi, p. 203. 

‘ Tenira, Henry, ibid., vol. x, p. 53. 

‘ Welles, Burke, The Firescalkers of Fiji. Frank Leslie’s Popular Monthly, 
1903, P- 586. 

’ Journal of the Polynesian Society, vol. viii, p. 58. 

The Garden 


especially, as when I saw it, the soil was very hard even to the 
sharp pointed digging sticks with which the rest of the garden 
was done. In this manner and with spell the square of the 
Place of Pouring is prepared to receive the seed. No digging 
stick is used upon it. 

The male ritualist, who has been squatting nearby while 
the woman ritualist completes her moves, now rises and pro- 
ceeds to the Place of the House Platform inland from the 
Place of Pouring. Here in the centre of the square he plants 
an upright stick cut from the siwabu tree. Then he plants 
four leaning sticks about it, one from each side of the square, 
the final effect resembling rifles stacked. He breathes a spell 
into mpuna creeper and fastens the meeting points of the 
stick pyramid with it, still charming with the same spell — 

whose house platform 
I set up, I bind fast ? 

the man buleima 
his house platform 
I set up, 1 bind fast, 
the man tulia, 
the man kuyagas 
five posted 
my food five posted 
it shoots upward 
it uncurls underground 
it sends out many side shoots. 

The man Buleima, the man Tulia, the man Kuyagas are 
yam varieties, in ordinary speech called Buleima, Tulia, and 
Kuyagas simply. This incantation being concluded, the 
male ritualist’s part is done for the day. The woman now 
slices a large prime variety of red fleshed yam into “ eyes ”. 
This is only done with the one variety of yam in Dobu. In 
Basima, a district of another language bordering Dobu, no 
slicing of any yam into “ eyes ” is done. The largest varieties 
are planted entire. The Basima folk regard the Dobuan 
custom in this regard with the greatest horror. Their emotion 
at the idea is exactly comparable to a militant Protestant 
denunciation of Papist custom. Even in Dobu the slicing 
is done with apologetic regards to the yam so sliced. As 
the woman slices the yam she mutters — 
i-oi I 

samu, samuela 
samu, samuela. 

I disembark at walibua 
at the head of the garden 
I cut and her blood 
flows as a stream flows 
spurts as flung sea spray, 
ya 1 

The Ritual of the Garden 117 

samu, samuela, 
samu, samuela 
i-oi ! 

kwatea gomanumusa (the variety of yam sliced) 
rises, stands erect. 

Samuela was the female child of Bulelala, who set her 
daughter in the earth, where she developed various yam 
qualities. She went to Wamea in the Amphletts where she 
was refused food by the people. She left them and went 
to Walibua near Mt. Koyatabu. There the inhabitants not 
only refused to give her food but cut her throat and grew 
her as a yam with a red (blood-coloured) flesh. “ I-oi ! ” 
is the native expression of great condolence “ you poor thing ”. 
The charm proffers apologies and condolence for the cutting 
of the seed into “ eyes ”. This fragment of mythology is 
not public information in common with ordinary mythology. 
Like the spell itself it is secret to the owner of the spell. The 
extraordinary feature about it from the ethnologist’s point 
of view is that Walibua, near Mt. Koyatabu, is exactly where 
the Basima neighbours of the Dobuans, the folk who express 
horror at the bare idea of cutting a seed yam into “ eyes ”, 
live. The original sin is laid at the door of neighbours, who 
certainly do not slice yams into eyes at all in these days. There 
is evidently an imperative need to put the original fault on to 
someone else, preferably someone else whose custom one 
does not approve of as being different. 

The woman magician next breathes a spell into two or 
three water gourds containing sea water, and pours the water 
over the heaped seed yams and sliced ” eyes ” which she and an 
assistant have heaped on the Place of Pouring. The slicing 
performance was done in the Place of Pouring — ^the woman 
magician must be pictured as still being there. She continues 
charming as she pours the water, mixing it with a little mud 
as she pours it, to make a fine silt that will adhere to the yam 
seed. The spell breathed into the water gourds and continued 
while the water is being poured runs — 

munia octopus 
from its inner cave 
it thrusts a left arm out 
on the left side it lies, head inland, 
it thrusts a right arm out 
comes over and down, lies down, 
the rich man my friends, 
the rich women my friends, 
my heap of harvest home 
my feast of new food. 

ii8 The Garden 

This charm bears the name by which the Green Parrot 
clan’s system of garden ritual is known as a system. Different 
totemic clans have each their different system of garden magic. 

I know only that of the Green Parrot clan in full. It is the 
system I am giving here. The difference in the magic of 
other totems is mainly in minor points. They all use 
Yabowaine and Bunelala charms, they all use a charm in- 
volving the use of the pies plant {ti plant). They all use ritual 
associated with the Pleiades. They all use ritual based upon 
the belief in the nocturnal prowling of the growing yams. 
They have the major elements in common. But the above 
charm is an especial and exclusive possession of the Green 
Parrot people. The fact of such differences functions in 
native theory in the derived belief that the lines of seed used 
by one totem will not grow in response to the systems of magic 
used by other totems. Hence seed alienated from a person 
of one totem to a person of another totem will not grow. The 
only cases in which a person of one totem is likely to wish 
to give his seed to a person of another totem is in the father- 
child relationship or in the husband- wife relationship. Seed 
does not pass between persons so connected in point of fact. 
It follows logically that if a man without magical knowledge 
wants his seed yams charmed he cannot engage and fee a 
practitioner of any other totem than his own for the purpose ; 
similarly for a woman. Above all a person cannot logically 
engage a relative-in-law to do such ritual work except where 
the less approved marriage within the totem has occurred. 
As we have already seen, in point of fact, the theory breaks 
down in the case of the father-child relationship, for the 
father often passes on his garden magic to his cMld. This 
is half subversive practice, however. Just so the logical 
deduction that a man’s separate seed yams must be charmed 
by a practitioner of his own totem is honoured as much in 
the breach as in the observance in actual practice, as I know 
from several instances. Planting the new gardens takes 
place not long after harvesting the old year’s crop. The 
man s seed is kept apart, the woman’s seed apart each from 
his and her own previous year’s garden respectively for the 
month or two intervening between the old and the new year. 
The rest of the crop from the man’s garden and the woman’s 
garden is stored in common in the family yam house for eating. 
Furthermore it is said, that a woman is responsible for her 
garden s contribution, a man for his garden’s contribution 

The Ritual of the Garden 119 

towards the family food, and that divorce may be based on 
the failure of the garden of one of the pair. I heard for myself 
quarrels between man and wife where such responsibility 
was assumed. It is based on separate ownership of seed 
and land, for husband and wife work together both in the 
husband’s and in the wife’s garden. 

The theory of totemic monopoly of the only magic adapted 
to its yam seed may then be set aside as a survival which is 
honoured in the breach. It is an attempt to confine in- 
heritance of garden magic and the paid services of garden 
magic within the totem, by making totemic magic necessary 
to totemic seed (which actually does not go outside the totem). 
It is an attempt which has maintained a theory, although practice 
conflicts directly with it, flouting it — an interesting phase in 
the legal conflict between the susu and the marital grouping. 

We left our woman magician charming with the spell 
Murua (Woodlark Island) octopus, and pouring charmed 
salt water over the seed in the Place of Pouring. Connected 
with this spell, and as secret as the spell itself, is a mythological 
fragment. A woman of the time of the first ancestors whose 
name was Anabuyueta bore a many-armed son (who sub- 
sequently turned out to be an octopus). She set him in fresh 
water when he curled up and very nearly died. Accordingly 
he was set in the salt water. There he swam away and made 
his home in a rock cave of the deep sea floor. Anabuyueta 
went out to the deep sea to visit him, taking with her some 
seed yams. There on the sea floor she planted them and 
charmed them so that they grew. “ To-day if we plant in 
the sea they die. But the seed of the yams grown by 
Anabuyueta in the sea is the seed we of the Green Parrot 
totem use to-day — and it is indeed no ordinary seed — but 
descends from the sea garden of the Murua Octopus.” In 
this manner the charm recalls to the seed yams to be planted 
the astounding feat of their yam ancestors in growing in the 
sea. The salt water poured on them is an additional reminder. 
This magic stimulates the seed to great efforts. 

The woman magician now moves from the Place of Pouring 
to the Place of the House Platform, taking four seed yams 
with her. She plants one at the foot of each of the four sticks 
of the stick pyramid, muttering the spell Bulelala, the spell 
of the first woman to plant yams, as she does so 

•whose belt of red shell discs 
is it that I -wind around, etc. 

120 The Garden 

as it was uttered earlier in the ritual in the planting of 
the pegs. 

The ritual of the planting is now done — half an hour or 
more has passed with the workers sitting about silently 
affecting to take no notice of the proceedings, later comers 
arriving ; now talk breaks out freely, the digging sticks are 
sharpened, the men lead down the length stick lanes from 
landward fringe to seaward fringe with long digging sticks, 
the seed is distributed, the women follow behind squatting, 
delving with short sticks and planting the seed. The brick-like 
soil breaks with hard work only. No worker may cross a 
length stick — all work is from inland head to seaward foot 
within the eight-foot lanes formed by the length sticks. The 
work goes on till mid-day if twelve or so take part. Then 
the owner of the garden gives the workers the niaura, the 
food given for communal garden work ; they eat and disperse. 

The prohibition on working from side to side is a ritual 
one. I dug with a digging stick in my own garden, and un- 
knowingly crossed a length stick (i.e. a stick going from Top- 
side to Bottom-side of the garden). I was promptly brought 
back and told to cross only the cross-sticks if I wished for 
a good crop. 

I think that this ritual which precedes planting is self- 
explanatory. It recalls the early history of yams that have 
descended in the Green Parrot totem from their first birth 
from human beings in the time of the ancestors (Samuela, 
daughter of Bulelala, a woman ancestress, being cut up and 
planted as a red yam). It is believed that the yams are personal 
beings who hear the spells directed towards them and must 
needs respond. Of the Green Parrot peoples’ seed it is 
believed that it was once grown successfully in the sea by 
strong magic, a part of the strength of which is now lost to 
man, since yams cannot now be so grown. And it is roundly 
asserted by every native that if yam seed is not treated with 
one of the totemic systems of magic it will not grow. Yam 
seed is personal and must be treated deferentially. Indeed, 
the gross overstatement that seed will not grow unless treated 
with the totemic system of magic that matches the totem 
within which the seed is inherited is made. But I heard of 
no one who ever acted in despite of the wider dogma that 
yam seed untreated by some magic will not grow. There 
has been no such motive for questioning it such as that 
involved in the stisu versus marital grouping conflict which has 

The Ritual of the Garden 121 

repudiated the overstatement about totemic matching of magic 
and seed. 

The garden ritual now halts for a time. The men go away 
on overseas expeditions, leaving their women to attend to 
weeding. Then comes the time of stick cutting, stick planting 
in the garden, and the training of the growing vines about 
the sticks. Several of the first vines to be twined are done 
with the incantation — 

kapali ! kapali 
twisting around ! 
he laughs with joy. 

I with my leaves 

my shoot long in the budding point 
my shoot broad in the leaf, 
kapali, kapali 
twisting around 
he laughs with joy. 

I with my garden darkened with foliage 
I with my leaves, 
kapali, kapali 
twisting around 
he laughs with joy. 

The kapali is a large species of spider. The suggestion 
is that the yam vines continue to work up and around the 
sticks as a kapali web-weaving. We must leave the point 
open as to whether Kapali is a supernatural being, or whether 
the spell merely makes a comparison between vine twining 
and a natural spider’s web weaving. This point I shall discuss 
later with further examples. 

Following the vine twining on the sticks there comes a 
series of rites where the green leaves of various trees are burned 
in the Place of Pouring. This burning produces clouds of 
dense smoke which drift over the garden. I do not wish 
to fatigue my reader with a glut of ritual so I shall abbreviate 
this portion of my notes and state that the trees are noted 
for dense masses of foliage or for unusually large seed and 
that the ritual introduces the particular leaf burnt to the yams 
by placing reference to one and reference to the other side 
by side as much as to say : “ Now allow me to introduce you 
to each other.” 

The charm used with nokonoko ^ leaves refers to a nokonoko 
of Sawatupwa in the middle of the garden, Sawatupwa, the 
home of all mysteries. The nokonoko tree is said to be dark 
with foliage. Then the yams are mentioned. In point of 
fact all that is in the middle of the garden is a smoking bundle 

* Vigna marina (Merrill). 


The Garden 

of leaves. The charm used with bilubilu^ leaves refers to 
yam leaves shaking in the night wind off Garea. When 
siwabu* leaves are burnt the siwabu stick that rises erect 
in the Place of the House Platform is said to be heavy in 
leaf (in fact it is dead) and the yams, as is usual in the garden 
charms, are already harvested and in this case stored in the 
food house. The constant declaration of a great harvest attained 
and already garnered are compellingly reminiscent of the 
speeches of Parliamentary candidates in a general election. My 
best informant remarked to me that the yams imitate the 
heavy foliage of the trees and the plants introduced to them in 
this matter. Since the yams are personal there is no reason why 
they should not do so. It should be noted that there is no 
thought of any supernatural being such as Yabowaine, Bulelala, 
or Samuela involved here — only imitation of one thing by 
another under the compulsion of the spell. 

After vine twining and the series of leaf burning rites come 
three luugu, Entrances. The Entrances are walks round 
the garden by the magician who breathes a spell into his hand 
and places his hand repeatedly on the vines as he walks. 
Siwabudoi, the first Entrance, follows closely the pattern 
of the last burning of leaves spell, when siwabu leaves are 
burned. Immediately after the magic employed in an Entrance 
is done the magician must leave the garden and return home. 

Tatapeno, the second Entrance, runs : 

come tatapeno 
from your sand-hole 
he swells up 

yams they shout in amazement to see 
yams of a different kind, 
he swells up 
my feast of young food 
my heaped up food. 

Tatapeno is a small sea habitant that lives between high 
and low water mark. His sting can cause severe limb swelling. 
He is only an inch or so in length, but he builds a great sand 
mound over him “ like the mound-building bush hen ” said 
my informant. The yams are commanded indirectly by 
the citation of his example. 

Shortly after the Tatapeno Entrance, the women acting 
collectively take the grandmothers ” from the gardens. 
Grandmother yams are the rotted seed yams after they have 
produced their offspring. They are distinguished not only 

* Hemandia peltata (Meissn). 

* Ccdopkyllum inophyllum, L. 

The Ritual of the Garden 123 

from fresh seed yams and yams of the ordinary crop, but 
also from the “ spirit ” yams — ^yam vines which grow wild 
without setting any seed at the roots. Spirits do not reproduce ; 
also they are not very important in Dobuan feeling — hence 
the term. The women take the grandmother yams from 
the soil, carry them to the seashore and hurl them into the 
sea with the cry — 

o turtle, your food, 
o whale, your food, 
o dugong, your food, 
o porpoise, your food ; 

my young yams you leap up and down as the porpoise in the sea, lifting up 
and letting down, lifting up and letting down the earth above you. His size 
you imitate. 

This formula, unUke the magic in general, is public. Unlike 
the magic in general it is not couched in esoteric language. 
Amongst the Basima people, neighbours of the Dobuans, 
the same formula is used as a private spell, couched in the 
usual esoteric language of spells. 

The plants are now earthed up. 

Then the leaves of the scented me ^ are laid on the earth 
above each plant by the women with an incantation for keeping 
cold the womb of the woman Nebubunebubuero and the 
wombs of the yams cold also, so that they hunch up for the 
cold and hunch outwards — or in our own speech grow knobby. 
If the ground gets hot they do not grow as they do when the 
ground is cold. The me is associated with the anointing 
and dressing after bathing, and hence with the measures for 
keeping cool. Nebubunebubuero is a supernatural. 

A month or so later a similar ceremony with the leaves 
of the scented keginae and with a similar incantation is per- 
formed. In between these rites the last Entrance, Nemwadole, 
is performed. About the same time occurs the taking of the 
first fruits from the ground, a small yam or two from each vine. 

Towards the end of March or in early April there comes 
a time of low tides with masses of driftwood floating inshore. 
The driftwood brings with it a small fish that comes, hke the 
palolo worm, only once yearly. 

This is an automatic annual event which the natives foretell 
to within a week accurately. The Nemwadole Entrance 
proceeds this event and is believed to cause it. This powerful 
spell runs : 

* Nothopanax. 


The Garden 

i-oi ! 

nemwadole 1 
i-oi ! 

your journey far over 
from your budibudi 
across your sea 
you journey far and make port 
from the seaward end of my garden 
I draw you to me, 

I with my leaves 

I with my darkening wealth of foliage 
I with my sea driftwood 
I with my sea floating pumice, 
turn about, come nemwadole. 
yams they shout to see, 
yams carried with difficulty. 

Nemwadole is said to have lived, a lone woman, in a 
solitary forest cave. There she bore two children, the 
Gomanumusa yam and the Muyoi yam. Her spirit is thought 
to come shorewards and to enter the garden ; the mwedole 
fish is its carrier over the sea. With her arrival come great 
banks of floating driftwood and pumice. Budibudi is a 
bay near Vakuta in the south Trobriands. 

After an Entrance spell has been pronounced the magician 
is very careful to make no sound. No work is done and he 
or she gets away quickly. If a noise is made it is said that 
the charm will fly away to the next garden. Charms have 
an extraordinary quality of mobility. A charm at the bottom 
of the storing place of the canoe, the geboboi, is said to rise 
up through the food placed upon it. The Entrances are 
conveyed from mouth to vine by the hand, touching first one 
then the other, and are said to sink slowly down the vine and 
into the root provided no noise is made. Given the noise, 
the charm will fly away elsewhere. A wind charm, of course, 
has to fly — and a considerable distance at that — all the way 
to the Lusancay group for a north-westerly for example, 
to the farthest land known in the north-west. 

April is the month of the first fruits. From middle 
November to April we have followed the garden ritual 
faithfully. From now on we shall take some of the salient 
points only. 

After the yams have been cajoled into growing sufficiently 
it is felt that it is time to forbid their nightly prowling, lest 
they come home in the morning into the wrong garden. There 
is a series of charms called sone which aim at seducing yams 
from a neighbour’s garden into one’s own. The danger 
from sone has to be averted. The top shoot is bent over. 

The Ritual of the Garden 125 

bound to the main stem, and the following incantation 
pronounced : 

where stands the kasiara palm ? 
in the belly of my garden 
at the foot of my place of the house platform 
he stands. 

he will stand inflexible, unbending, 
he stands unmoved, 
the smashers of wood smash, 
the hurlers of stones hurl, 
they remain unmoved, 
the loud stampers of earth they stamp 
they remain unmoved, 
he remains, he remains 
inflexible, unbending, 
the yam kulia 

he remains inflexible, unbending, 
he remains, he remains unmoved 
in the belly of my garden. 

(So also of other yams, their names and the concluding three 
lines repeated as a litany to each name in turn.) 

After this formula it is safe to crack wood, throw stones, 
and stamp in the garden without fear of the yams running 
away in the night. My informant pointed out that there 
was no kasiara palm in his garden (as indeed I had perceived). 
It was a way of ritual “ We compare one thing to another 
The kasiara palm is the hardest wood in the bush. It is used 
for spear making and for house floors. It stands erect in 
a storm when all else bends. 

It will be perceived by my reader that there is an antinomy 
of sorts in the magic that I have recorded. On the one hand, 
in some spells supernaturals such as Yabowaine, Bulelala, 
the woman Nebubunebubuero, and the spirit Nemwadole 
are called upon to act. On the other hand in the spells that 
accompany burning of green leaves in the garden it is explicitly 
stated that the yams are commanded to imitate the thick growth 
associated with the plants from which the leaves are plucked. 
There is a little reference to a mystical tree, the nokonoko 
tree of Sawatuwpa in one such spell, but it is not stressed 
greatly. Similarly, are the yams commanded to stand fast 
as the kasiara palm stands fast ? Or does a mystical double 
or a mystical quality of the nokonoko, etc., leaves and of the 
kasiara palm enter into the yams ? 

I asked concerning the mound building shell-fish, Tatapeno 
— does he come from the inter-tidal space, climb or fly to the 
garden and enter the yam growing soil in body ? Or in spirit ? 
Or in effluence ? Does the twining spider, Kapali, enter the 
twining yam tendril in spirit or in effluence ? Is Samuela 

126 The Garden 

really present in the red yam that is sliced into “ eyes ” ? 
What of Murua Octopus that once had a sea floor garden ? 
It was clear that no one had asked such a question of a magician 
before. My magician was quick of wit, and grasped exactly 
what I meant. He knew that the woman’s cry at the hurling 
of the grandmother yams seawards said explicitly — 

“ My young yams you leap up and down as the porpoise 
in the sea. His size you imitate." 

He was perplexed and said once of Tatapeno, the shell- 
fish : “ No, enough, we compare one thing to another — ^the 
yams hear and imitate — it is enough.” So also of Kapali, 
the Spider. Murua Octopus stays in the sea like Tatapeno, 
Kapali in his web in the bush. 

“ Nemwadole then ? ” 

“ That is a different matter — her spirit comes to our calling. 
Did you not see the driftwood come inshore as I predicted ? ” 
Yabowaine and Bulelala, Nebubunebubuero are all like 
Nemwadole — spirits all. 

But then I had been told that the Turtle of the charm 
with the pies (ti) leaves was a supernatural. Again on 
another occasion my magician said distinctly that the Shell 
Fish, Tatapeno, came in spirit double form right into the 

In disease-causing magic there are spirit doubles of the 
hornbill, of the rock limpet, of certain shell-fish, of the brown 
eagle, of various trees, that are firmly believed actually to 
enter the body. Ligatures are usually bound above the 
afflicted spot to prevent further entry of the zoological or 
botanical spiritual double into the more vital parts of the body. 
In such cases a disease is described as the entry of the hornbill 
into the body, or whatever bird, fish, beast, or tree is appropriate 
to the disease. In the same way the feeling in regard to garden 
magic inclines somewhat to regard Turtle, Shell-fish, Spider, 
Kasiara P^m as real effluences that enter the yams and infuse 
their qualities into them. I should say that this is the feeling, 
but it is not formulated and expressed clearly in native thought 
«cept in the case of the etiology of disease in human beings. 
The eaten-away nose in gangosa is said to be caused by the 
entry of the spiritual double of the hornbill with its swollen 
rending beak (by analogy nose) into the nose of the victim. 
Here we have belief in the real entry of a real spirit double. 
My magician wobbled, and now ascribed real entry, now 
denied it to the Shell-fish, the Spider, the Kasiara Palm, and 

The Ritual of the Garden 127 

the rest into the yams. He did not think to look to the belief 
in the case of disease for guidance. 

We must not be too logic-chopping in our questions, 
however. The real answer is that the veil that separates 
sympathetic magic as such (where one thing is compared 
to another and one imitates the other under the compulsion 
of the spell) from sympathetic magic where a supernatural 
effluence or double passes from one and enters the other, 
is but the fflmsiest of veils. The general pattern of Dobuan 
magic, as a whole, is putting a supernatural to work on the 
task. But, as my magician said, where the yams are personal 
and dependent, as they are, they can be compelled to imitate. 
Either way will do equally well. 

Samuela, before I forget her, is present in the red yams 
sliced into “ eyes ” as any human ancestress is present in her 
descendants,^ said my magician. As for Samuela, he was not 
informed of her exact whereabouts. 

Gardening times are regulated by the position of Pleiades 
in the sky. (I intend to speak of Pleiades as singular, not 
as plural, to express the native concept of a personal being.) 
When he rises at about fifteen degrees angle with the ocean 
the bush is cleared — at about thirty degrees the land is planted. 
He climbs from the north-eastern to the south-western sky, 
sets in the south-west, and is unseen for over a month. Then, 
when he rises in the north-east, harvest time is come. Orion 
and Pleiades are down together unseen after falling in the 
west. In this time each is supposed to pole his canoe round 
the sea rim from the south-west to the north-east, and the 
two are said to meet in the north-east behind the cloud bank 
on the horizon before Pleiades rises again there before Orion. 

In order to ensure this annual procedure of Orion and 
Pleiades, and to bring the harvest home duly, they are sunken 
in the west by ritual. Several stalks of tabuwara, a wild maize 
that possibly crossed New Guinea with tobacco from the 
western Spanish settlements, are slowly hammered down 
into the earth two at a time — a big garden may have three 
pairs hammered down with three repetitions of the formula — 

the man pleiades 
the man yuyuwe (tail of orion) 
we cover your meeting together, 
your shding downward, 
they slide downwards. 

* There is no belirf in reincarnation — only in the transmission of a common 
blood in the distaff line. 


The Garden 

we cover your setting, your setting, your meeting together, 
they set. 

the yam kuUa, the yam yamsu 
sleep faded, withered in leaf 
they cry out to see you 
they carry you slowly, heavily. 

One further charm incites the yams to burrow downwards 
deeply. The stem near the roots is held between the toes 
and shaken to emphasize the injunction. 

The final charm before digging is that uttered into the 
coconut oil with which the body is anointed in preparation 
for the event. The charm makes disparaging statements 
about the ragged and outward grass skirts of a certain woman, 
praises the speaker’s chiefly rank (using the speech of the 
Trobriands to do this, for rank is not present in Dobu), his 
appearance and his friends, and incites the yams to abandon 
the garden of the owner of the disreputable grass skirts and 
enter the speaker’s garden — the ritualist beckoning them to 
come with both hands. 

This final charm is one of many sone that are directed towards 
alienating yams from another person’s garden and bring them 
into one’s own. This power is thoroughly believed in, the 
mobility of yams in response to incantation is undoubted, 
and only precautions such as the kasiara charm directing the 
yams to stand fast, and frequent counter attack serve to main- 
tain a man’s composure in the face of the alienating charms 
that he knows his neighbours are directing against his garden. 
I have not recorded many of these alienating charms, but 
I know that many exist, and are in regular employment — even 
by the best people. In most ritual certain leaves are believed 
to be necessary, either for burning or for laying about the 
place of the charm ; and I was shown the plant essential to 
the sone by Yogalu, the old man that I least suspected of villainy. 
This particular form of beggar-my-neighbour is essential. 
It is not a matter of form, but actually does carry an atmosphere 
of extreme distance towards neighbours with it. It is all 
secret, of course. It is carried on against one another even 
by the owners of the village, within the village. If one man 
has a better crop than his neighbours, they believe that he 
has stolen their yams from their gardens by his strong sone, 
yam-alienating magic. Accordingly it is believed that having 
a better garden crop than one’s neighbours is a cause of 
disease and death. It is a frequent diagnosis. There is no 
competitive display of the harvests of different gardens. 

The Ritual of the Garden 129 

Harvest crops are taken home privately, a little at a time. 
They are stored inside a private yam house, and any curiosity 
regarding a neighbour’s crop is taken with the greatest resentment 
as an insulting intrusion. All such curiosity is vented by stealth. 

Now that we have concluded the ritual of the garden, 
let us examine some general considerations. First it may 
be laid down that knowing the secret name of the super- 
natural, knowing the secret spell, having the right herb to 
use in the accompanying ritual, are all of such importance 
that not one of them may be falsified. If we ask ourselves 
which element is most important from the point of view of 
theorizing about magic we pose a false problem. All of them 
are most important in the sense that not one may be neglected. 
If we ask ourselves which is important in native conversation 
we have a different problem. Here the herb is unimportant 
in public garden ritual because it is no secret, whereas the 
herb is important in the sone, alienating other person’s yam 
magic, and in all the black art, because it is a deep secret. 
Secrecy, privacy of possession is the important thing. It is 
good to keep secret and private a stronger magic than one’s 
neighbours have. Then one will get better results than they. 
Then if one is making rain by magic and they are trying to 
stop rain by magic they will not prevail. Then, if one is trying 
to alienate their yams from their gardens and they are recipro- 
cating the attempted injury, they will not prevail. Then, 
if they try to kill one or make one sick, one’s own cures are 
stronger than their deviltries. Hence secrecy and privacy 
in possession are so valued. If one’s magic is most excellent 
and a good monopoly, others will fee one to use it on their 
behalf. The better the monopoly, the higher the fee. But 
to say that the herb is more important in the black art than 
in garden ritual of a public kind is not to say that it is un- 
important in public garden ritual ; nor is it equivalent to saying 
that the secret name of the supernatural and the secret spell 
are unimportant in the black art. From the point of view 
of indispensability name, spell, and herb are as important 
in the one case as in the other — with a few exceptions. Certain 
herbs without spells or supematurals’ secret names, are believed 
to be efficacious in producing sterility and in poisoning enemies. 
These are not clearly distinguished from the herbs that are 
an element in the complete magical performance. They are 
family secrets also. And they colour the whole magical 
outlook, so that when a man says mysteriously “ a certain 

The Garden 


vegetable product I know ” he may refer either to a secret 
herb that is used without a spell, or to a secret herb that is 
used with a spell. From the point of view of indispensability 
in most cases, but not in all, the name of the supernaturals, 
the spell, and the herb are coequal in importance. From the 
point of view of secrecy the case is sometimes otherwise. A 
theory that would emphasize one element as the root of magic 
in Dobu would condemn itself at the very beginning. 

Equally rash would it be to say that the mere power of words 
is the prime element in the magic. It is a great element, but 
not absolute, for usually the words have not power as such, 
but through their action on a supernatural. Nevertheless, 
the supernaturals fade so faintly from the Dobuan scene, their 
influence is so taken for granted, and the forms of words as 
such assume such over-weening value in native eyes that it 
is easy to say that no one cares a brass button whether the 
words have power through a mediate supernatural or in their 
own right — the power is the thing. 

The words of Dobuan magic are not words of ordinary 
speech. They form a secret esoteric language, a language 
of power. It will be noted that in the spells the power over 
the supernaturals or over the yams, themselves supernaturals, 
is not used with a bludgeon. We have found no charm where 
the magician says : “ Come on yams, now grow, and be snappy 
about it. The truth is that it is realized that crops are 
capricious. Like wind and rain and many other things pro- 
duced by magic, there is room for ill fate. If the yams are 
persons they are not persons to be too roughly coerced, 
domineered over. The magician does not lay rough hands 
upon the slave. He handles him with ritualistic displacement. 
When he cuts a seed yam into “ eyes ” he offers condolence 
and apologies. When he wishes the growing vine to produce 
thick foliage he delicately calls to its attention various thick 
foliaged trees and shrubs. When he wishes the tuber to 
^ow large he delicately refers to the mound-raising shell- 
fish, Tatapeno. When he wishes the yam to grow knobby 
he speaks of the cold womb of Nebubunebubuero and of 
hunching up with cold. When he wishes his yams to cease 
nocturnal roaming he speaks with gentle hints of the stead- 
fastness of the kasiara palm. Enough of this, however. The 
point will be clear. The literary mechanics of the spell is 
well in accord with all proper feeling towards supernaturals, 
even towards coerced supematurals. 

The Ritual of the Garden 131 

There is no direct circumlocution about the spells that 
summon Nemwadole with her floating sea driftwood, and that 
sink Pleiades below the horizon. These spells work infallibly 
year in and year out. If we recall these spells we may see 
clearly how certainties are used to ballast the great uncertainty — 
— the success or the failure of the crops of the year. The rains 
are never certain in this area. In the season that I planted 
my garden in Dobu the rains of the north-west season were 
delayed about two months, and the gardens were very nearly 
damaged irrecoverably before the belated rains came. I found 
that the natives were aware of the danger of a total loss of 
the crops through drought in the growing season ; but once 
the crops were saved differences in the crops of different persons 
were ascribed to differences in the strength of the magic of 
the gardeners, particularly to differences in the strength of 
the sone. The drought itself, by one account, was caused by 
different localities planting their gardens at different times. 
The late planters delayed the normal seasonal round, inter- 
fering with those who planted at the correct time. Although 
there is no direct circumlocution in summoning Nemwadole 
or in sinking the Pleiades, both of these acts are themselves 
acts of displacement, indirect buttresses of the final issue — 
the crop of the year. They are no exception to the general 
rule of politeness to the yams. 


1. The Dobuan concept of space is that of a huge garden clearing. Just as 
the ^rden has its inland border kaikai, its seaward border kunukunuwana, and 
Its sides nana, so also has space in its widest extension. East and west extremities 
of space are called nana. Farthest north and farthest south known I never 
heard called kunukunuwana and kaikai respectively, but the universal verbal 
usage indicates that this is what they would be termed if the substantive forms 
corresponding to rutna for east and west, were used. To go far to the north 
at sea is always phrased as to go seawards, i.e. towards the kunukunuwana of 
space. To go far to the south at sea is always phrased as to go inland, i.e. 
towards the kaikai of space. The use of rmna for extreme east and extreme west 
explains why going far to the south at sea should be termed going inland, a 
puzzling usage until the concept of space as being like a huge garden is grasped. 

2. Kaniana, a concept that I have mentioned in the text, requires further 
explanation. It is rain magically caused by young yam crops roaming in the 
bush, by an overseas canoe voyage, by the death of a person gifted in magical 
knowledge, by war expeditions or as a by-product of the power of magic not 
specifically directed to rain-making. If rains are over frequent and the natives 
are chafing at it interfering with their plans they cannot blame the local rain- 
maker, an old woman. She has many alibis. Thus Kinosi once said to me 
disgustedly on a rainy day : “ Is it, I wonder, that the men of the Amphletts 
are starting on their kula overseas expedition, or is it that old woman (the local 
rainmaker) is being nasty ? ** Kinosi*s mother once came home from a canoe 
trip to Fergusson Island in falling rain. Kinosi said to her ; “ kaniaio — your 

132 The Garden 

voyage caused rain,” smilingly. She smilingly replied : “ katdagu — my voyage 
caused rain Kamana in the Trobriands is called hariyala ; vide 
B. Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific, p. 422. 

3. The drought that I witnessed was attributed to several causes : — 

(a) the rain-maker said my shooting birds frightened the rain clouds 
away. This was believed for a short time in her village. It was never accepted 
in my village, the members of which always secured some of my bag for their 
eating. They wanted me to go on shooting undeterred. 

(i) Different places planting their gardens at different times, so interfering 
with the normal seasonal cycle which is reckoned popularly in terms of g^den 
growth ; conflicts of rain-making magic owing to some places wanting it for 
their garden growth whereas late gardeners wanted to stave off rains until they 
had finished bush clearing, scrub burning, and planting. 

(c) The independent sea supematurals, Tobwaliton and Tobebeso, 
having thwarted Ae rain-maker’s magic. 

(d) The men of the Lusan^y Islands to the north-west (in which Islands 
the spirit that blows the no'th-west monsoon from its mouth is believed to 
live) had by their magic prevented the monsoon with its rains from coming 
at the usual time in order that they might extend their season of diving for the 
valuable Trocus shell. 

As the drought became more and more serious, the old rain-maker was to 
be seen almost daily bathing in the sea, muttering incantations. Her daughter 
kept her mother’s head clean shaven by frequent shaving with obsidian glass 
(other women let their hair grow). The rain-maker must be scrupulously clean, 
washed and shaven all over, hair of head, armpits, and pubic hair being removed 
lest she shelter a little dirt inimical to rain. 

Chapter III 


Disease Infliction 

Human beings in general are more vitally interested in 
other human beings than in their material surroundings. 
They often ascribe a personal quality to objects that are not 
personal. Thus it is difficult for us to realize that a Dobuan 
conceives a garden vegetable as personal and believes words 
and gestures to be effective in growing it, whereas he regards 
a canoe as impersonal and does not believe that his canoe 
can be launched or beached by words and gestures. To us 
the garden vegetable is impersonal, almost as impersonal 
as the canoe. Although we distinguish a vegetable as a living 
thing we do not normally use words and gestures to grow it. 
The Dobuan has an equal difficulty in conceiving the world 
as the de-personalized plaything of one Great Person, who 
is three Persons in One. In brief the projection of an absorbing 
interest in human personality into the world is done differently 
in different cultures. 

In Dobu not only is personality immanent in yams, and 
also present in various supernatural persons who are under the 
control of men wishing to grow yams, but disease, sickness, 
and death are ascribed to persons, as in the dogma found in 
our own society in the religion that was largely formulated 
out of the older attitudes by Mrs. Eddy. Here, again, the 
importance is laid upon living persons who manipulate the 
supernaturals for their own ends. 

In our discussion of social organization in Dobu we have 
examined the relationships between living persons in the 
area. Since personality is carried over into the garden, and 
into the creating and curing of disease and serious illness, 
we must expect that Dobuan thought and practice about 
gardening and about medicine will follow the tenor of personal 
relationships in Dobu. In gardening we have seen this to 
be true. It is no exaggeration to say that the Dobuan attitude 
towards garden yams is in some important respects similar 
to the attitude of the Dobuan man towards his wife. The 


134 The Black Art 

wife like yams is spoken of as property. Just as it is considered 
good form to try to “ steal ” other men’s wives whenever 
possible, so in gardening the current view is that every man 
should try to entice the yams, greatly desired personal beings 
in metamorphized form, from other persons’ gardens. Just 
as a man keeps close watch upon his wife to ensure her fidelity 
as far as is possible, so also a Dobuan native keeps close watch 
upon the garden. It is impossible to induce a native to leave 
his or her garden unattended. The garden must literally 
be brooded over, with constant repetition of magic nearly all 
the year. I have given the main charms for the garden but 
not the number of times each charm must be repeated. The 
kasiara charm for keeping the yams steadfast in the garden 
is not used too early in the growing season, or it is said the 
yams will be rebellious at the too early curtailment of their 
night prowling liberties, and refuse to grow. But once the 
kasiara charm is used it is repeated often as the garden owner 
becomes nervous about the sone, the charms used to alienate 
the yams from the garden by other men. Towards the last 
months of the garden season especially the use of the sone 
on other persons’ gardens and the use of protective charms 
on one’s own garden multiplies. Jealousy towards everyone 
else intensifies. The whole atmosphere is most closely related 
to the jealous watch over each other of man and wife. The 
attitudes of man and wife are themselves related not only 
to the social structure, but also to the magical world view. 
One of the most frequent words used in Dobu is the verb 
meaning “ to try out It is used almost always of magic. 
The first thing the learner of magic must do is “ try it out 
Then naturally he continues trying it out. The try out is 
the competitive pitting of one’s own magic against the magic 
of others. All the sex intercourse that occurs in Dobu is, 
in the native belief, the product of the successful making of 
desire by the magic for making desire. The great man is 
he whose magic is the strongest. The path of ambition is the 
path of “ trying out ” magic one has acquired. The magic 
for making desire is in all cases directed towards securing a 
girl or a married woman from the competition of others. 
Similarly a part of the magic for securing yams is directed 
towards securing personal beings, yams, from the competition 
of others. Always it is “ try it out ” against some obstacle 
that will be a real test. 

A reputation in Dobu is built upon successful magic. 

Disease Infliction 135 

He whose yam crops are good, whose success in obtaining 
favours from the other sex is conspicuous, whose health has 
been better than the health of his enemies, will become known. 
The magician who practises his art for payment has inherited 
a traditional magical “ good-will ”, or “ practice But 
amongst such magicians some will stand out as having been 
more socially successful than others. Social success is desired 
by everyone. In personal relationships it consists in having 
seduced many women, in having been a great adulterer. Good 
gardening is phrased in equivalent terms. Since yams are 
personal beings the best gardeners are those who have seduced 
yams most successfully from the majority of poorer gardeners. 
Since health and ill-health are due to the personal activities 
of human persons only, the healthy person is he who has 
powerful magic, the sick or deformed or dying person is he 
who has weak magic. It is assumed throughout that social 
success is necessarily gained at the expense of others. The 
healthy person is he who has defended himself from the black 
art of others in his pursuit of social success at the expense of 
others. The sick, deformed, and dying are those whose magic 
has not been as strong as that of those others who have felt 
themselves injured by their social climbing. 

In this society it is not possible to say that the attitudes 
of the social organization are created by the attitudes of the 
magical outlook, or that the attitudes of the magical outlook 
are created by the attitudes of the social organization. It is, 
however, possible to show a unity of feeling throughout. 
Jealousy of possession is the keynote to the culture. In social 
organization this jealousy is found in a conflict between the 
kin and the marital groupings. In gardening this jealousy 
obtains between gardeners. All illness and disease and death 
are attributed to jealousy, and provoke recrimination. It is 
also possible to show that poverty and • a great pressure of 
population upon land accords well with the prevalent tone 
of jealousy of possession. But here again it is not possible 
to say whether poverty has created the jealousy or vice versa. 
Either point of view could be put forward. Accordance is 
all that can be demonstrated, and in truth it is probable that 
the more accordance there is in the elements of a culture 
the stronger an intensification of the mutually agreeable 
elements will result. They will react upon one another. 

In Dobu the race is conceived as going to the strong. For 
the permanently deformed or permanently sickly there is 

136 The Black Art 

little or no sympathy. At first the ethnologist is greatly 
surprised at the use of the words he takes to mean good and 
bad. “ Here comes a bad man ” says one’s canoe paddler 
with great emphasis on the “ bad ” as another canoe comes up. 
The ethnologist looks with interest, thinking to find a moral 
reprobate. But no — it is a miserably deformed person. After 
this type of incident happens many times it is realized that 
to be a bad person is to be a deformed or incurably sick person. 
To be a good person is what we mean when we say to have 
a good person. Such a man is good irrespective of his morality. 
If he is an accomplished adulterer and a successful thief, 
who has won all the conflicts that arose from these activities, 
then he is not merely good, but very good. Deformed and 
incurably sick persons are those who have not won in the 
conflicts (of sorcery) that arose from the anti-social acts which 
all those not deformed or sickly pride themselves on having 
accomplished without bodily hurt from hostile sorcery. 

The successful thief is not necessarily such a wicked person 
as may be imagined from the term. It must be remembered 
that a person who harvests a better crop of yams than his 
neighbours thinks of himself, and is thought of, as a successful 
thief. We have already seen that this stealing is magical — 
actual garden stealing in the flesh is despised. 

Introduced diseases such as measles (which kills natives), 
tuberculosis, influenza, dysentery, are recognized by the natives 
as being of introduced origin. Tauwau is the mj’thological 
creator of the white race and of European artefacts. Tauwau 
placed a devil of his, a supernatural being, in the hot springs 
of Dede in Bwaioa. When this supernatural being emerges from 
the hot springs a wave of introduced epidemic disease strikes 
the country . Any white man may be referred to as a tauwau, 
a bearer of introduced diseases, as the typical feeling behind 
the term necessitates its correct translation. I never heard 
the theory, however, that this devil is made to work by white 
sorcery. As far as I could tell the Tauwau devil is supposed 
to work independently — but I did not see any time of introduced 
epidemic. There was measles killing many in the Trobriands, 
but I did not know the Trobrianders well enough to ascertain 
their ^ feeling. Dr. Malinowski refers to the tauwau as 
tauva uy The Dobuan character is notably more outspoken in 

» B. Malinowski, Argoruiuts of the Western Pacific, George Routledge and 
Soils, Ltd., 1922, p. 76. In the Duau dialect of Dobuan the term becomes 
tau^u. I have heard from a visitor to Dobu a theory that Tauhau is a 
Dobuan culture hero symbolic of a Polynesian immigration 1 

Disease Infliction 137 

unpleasant matters than the Trobriand — and I have a more 
outspoken account of the term. 

Disease and modes of death that are indigenous are well 
known and catalogued by the native. Their production 
and infliction upon near neighbours is one of the customary 
occupations of the people. Underneath the surface of native 
life there is a constant silent war, a small circle of close kindred 
alone placing trust in one another. The whole life of the 
people is strongly coloured by a thorough absence of trust 
in neighbours and the practice of treachery beneath a show 
of friendliness. Every person goes in fear of the secret war, 
and on frequent occasion the fear breaks through the surface. 

A man imitating the effects of a cruel disease with obvious 
enjoyment in his believed power of inflicting it on his neighbour, 
telling with eclat how his incantation may be placed on a 
pregnant woman and how it will kill the child within her, 
and bring about her end in torture, imitating her struggles 
and her groans in convulsion on the ground, or shrieking 
m convulsion as he illustrates the agonies of a disease that 
eats away the skin and leaves a deformity of such a red mass 
of streaming and streaked jelly where was once a human face, 
as I saw at least twice, and could scarcely look at as the man 
tried to turn his head away, is a vile enough object. This 
debonair and faithful imitation of the worst effects of disease 
or death is the ordinary procedure adopted in the teaching 
of black magic. It illustrates what can be done with the 
incantation ; it is done with fidelity, and with a satisfied con- 
viction of the power to produce such effects and of having 
produced them on previous occasions. The natives followed 
their customary procedure in giving me secret knowledge. 
Thus a man giving me a simple for curing a disease would 
always chew and swallow some of it in my sight, and call my 
attention to his doing it. The fact behind this is that 
treacherous poisoning is a common enough custom. A native 
will never accept food except from a few people that he knows 
and trusts, people who accept his food. So in acquiring 
knowledge of the black art I observed and was shown the 
customary formalities, as in acquiring knowledge of simples. 
I went with my informant to a far-away and desolate spot 
on the shore. We bathed, to cleanse ourselves after the 
recital of the incantation, and we refrained from returning 
to the village till late in the day. . . . Further I bound myself 
to lock the notes of these incantations away and not to scan , 

138 The Black Art 

them idly. If I wanted to use the power on a stranger I might 
scan them. On his part my native informant followed custom 
in his somewhat hideous pantomine of the agony of the trouble 
that the incantation had the power of inflicting. 

My medicine man had a very good “ bed-side manner ”, 
as I found when I summoned in his curing incantation for 
a fever that I had. He actually did exert considerable com- 
pelling power over me in the way of a will to feel better. So 
in teaching me incantations for killing he communicated a 
thoroughly villainous atmosphere with equal pride in his 
power and with some inevitable contagion of feeling, for 
anything to the contrary had to be dissembled on my part. 

Every disease is held to be caused by a tabu. Tabu 
denotes an incantation, expressing black hatred in an extremely 
ugly form, which has the power of inflicting disease. Each 
disease has its own tabu or incantation. Every man and 
woman knows from one to five tabus — I made a census of tabus 
and their possessors in Tewara — how they are distributed and 
held is common knowledge. Thus Neddidiway, a middle- 
aged widow with two children, knew the tabus for incontinence 
of urine and incontinence of semen ; Megibweli, an extremely 
old and once cannibalistic rain-maker,^ knew the tabu for 
elephantiasis ; a man who gave me his knowledge of tabu 
knew gangosa, paralysis, tertiary yaws, and wasting in hook- 
worm. The traditional conservatism of the magical world 
is illustrated by the fact that no one knows or practises tabus 
to create introduced epidemic disease. They are a department 
apart, outside the scope of sorcery, though they have been 
present in Dobu for nearly half a century. 

The tabus are commonly used to protect private property 
in trees situated away from the village. They are also used, 
however, in the ordinary course of private feuds. The use 
of the disease-causing incantations on the didila, a dry coconut 
palm frond tied about a protected tree as a sign of its giving 
abode to a malevolent charm, creates some resemblance 
between the Dobuan tabu and the Samoan hieroglyphic tapui? 

The names of the great majority of the tabus are the names 
of certain shell-fish, insects, birds, and animals with the 
prefix lo. A few are the names of trees with the prefix lo ; 
and there are a few further tabus outside these categories. 
The prefix lo is used elsewhere in terminology — thus lo-mwali 

^ Rain-makers are female. 

* Margaret Mead, Social Organtsation of Manuka, p. 120. 

Disease Infliction 139 

is to obtain mwali or armshells, lo-bagura is to get food from 
bagura, the garden. By equivalence lo-binama is to get binama, 
the hornbill, lo-moata is to get moata, the snake. To get the 
hornbill is to get gangosa, to get the snake is to get paralysis. 
The unfolding of this somewhat grotesque terminology will 
be apparent later. 

The incantation that causes gangosa is known as Kalena 
Sigasiga. We may consider it in detail. 

kalena sigasiga 

hornbill dweller of siga siga (Place-name) 

hornbill dweller of siga siga 
in the lotvana tree top 
he cuts he cuts 
he rends open 

he rends standing 
he rends flying 
from the nose 
from the temples 
he rends standing 
he rends flying. 

hornbill dweller of sawatupa (Place-name) 
in the lotvana tree top 
he slices up 
he cuts, he cuts 
he rends open 
from the throat 
from the hip 

from the root of the tongue 
he rends open 
he rends flying 

hornbill dweller of darubia (Place-name) 
in the lotvana tree top 
he slices up, 

he booms crying droning 
he cuts, he cuts 
he rends open 
he rends open 
he rends flying 

hornbill dweller of sisiyana (Place-name) 
in the lotvana tree top 
he slices up 

he booms, crying droning 

he cuts, he cuts 

he rends open 

he rends flying 

from the side of the body 

from the back of the neck 

from the root of the tongue 

from the temples 

he rends flying 

he rends standing. 

hornbill dweller of solamanake (Place-name) 
in the lotvana tree top 
he slices up 

he booms crying droning 
he cuts, he cuts 
he rends open. 


The Black Art 

hombill dweller of tokuku (Place-name) 
in the lowana tree top 
he booms, crying droning 
he rends open 
he rends flying 
he crouches bent up 
he crouches holding his back 
he crouches arms twined in front of him 
from the back of the neck 
from the root of the tongue. 

hombill dweller of lamona (Place-name) 
in the lowana tree top 
he booms crying droning 
he rends open 
he rends flying 
he crouches bent up 
he crouches hands over his kidneys 
he crouches head bent in arms turned about it 
he crouches double twined. 

hombill dweller of koiyawabu (Place-name) 
in the lowana tree top 
he slices up 

he booms, crying droning 
he rends open 
he rends flying 
from the back of the neck 
from the navel 
from the small of the back 
he rends open 
he rends standing 

hombill dweller of koyatabu (Place-name) 
in the lowana tree top 
he slices up 

he booms crying, droning 

he cuts, he cuts 

he rends open 

he rends flying 

he crouches bent 

he crouches hand over kidneys 

from the root of the tongue 

from the throat 

from the kidneys 

from the entrails 

he rends open 

he rends flying 

kebadidi (Place-name) 
woman nebagieta (name of a supernatural) 
your skin my skin 
my vision deceives me 
your shadow 
your spirit 
I conceal away 

they stagger back falteringly stricken 
they crouch heads twined in outstretched arms 
wailing, shrieking 
it flies hither 
quickly it flies hither. 

First we may consider the native attitude to an incantation 
such as the above. The attitude is essentially one of great 

Disease Infliction 141 

fear. My informant insisted in giving me the charm that 
no word of it could be uttered anywhere near an inhabited 
place. It had to be uttered on a far and desolate shore as 
I have said above. We had to cleanse ourselves in the sea 
after its ritual, and we had to refrain from going near the 
village for hours afterwards. I had to cease using my in- 
formant’s name. Thereafter I observed this prohibition care- 
fully, calling him igu esoi, “ my partner of a day long sojourn 
apart,” whenever I called to him or referred to him to others. 

“ Do not say that name idly ” several men cautioned me, 
I having used the term lobinama in my house in speech with 
them. “ If we crack a twig, it hears, if we whisper, it hears.” 
My informant for the charm had cautioned me before. Once 
I knew the incantation I was not to use its name carelessly, 
lest it come and afflict me or persons near me with gangosa. 
The group of men did not know for certain whether I knew 
the charm or no, but they suspected as much, and were not 
anxious to take risks. The hornbill of gangosa is not an 
ordinary material hornbill. It is a monstrous being, active 
in many places at once. Hence, hornbill of Sigasiga, of 
Sawatupa, of Darubia, of Sisiyana and of the many places 
quoted, from the centre of Normanby Island in the south to 
Mt. Koyatabu on the north-east of Fergusson Island. Like 
other supernatural agents it is not subject to the limitations 
of time and space. 

I wished once to leave my goods unattended in a barrack 
at Basima to allow my personal boys to come up the hill with 
me to a dance. At that time I did not know the tabu in- 
cantations. I feigned that I did and feigned to be about to 
put one on my goods to protect them. My boys bolted 
precipitously into the night and I heard later that several 
families living between fifty and a hundred yards from the 
barrack left their houses on the beach and went to their houses 
high on the hill on account of it. 

From this digression on the native attitude we may return 
to the incantation itself. Despite the ubiquity of the hornbill 
double of gangosa in time and space there is the very material 
touch of “ in the Lowana tree-top ”. The great beak of the 
hornbill which he uses in hacking out tree hollows, accounts 
for his body-rending powers. The boom of the hornbill 
in the bush was compared by my informant with the thick 
nasal utterance that I had heard from a mutual acquaintance 
who had no nose, the entire organ having been eaten away 

The Black Art 


by gangosa. The references “ he crouches up, etc.,” refer 
not to the hornbill, but to the victim, and are introduced towards 
the final strophes. The final strophe, introducing a change 
of treatment, reveals the mythical foundation, the reference 
to the first ancestors which we have found characteristically 
in the garden ritual. The final strophe conceals the spirit 
of the woman Nebagieta in the object that is to carry the charm. 
She is first seen in the flesh, then error of vision is declared, 
her shadow, her spirit is summoned and flies to command. 

The spirit of Nebagieta is said to live in a cave near ’Ebadidi 
in the central hills of Fergusson Island. She wore a rough 
jagged nose and she gave birth to a hornbill, the hornbill 
of all hornbills. She was the creator of gangosa by incantation, 
and she ordered her offspring to try it out on a village ; whereat 
the entire village contracted gangosa. The spell calls on 
the hornbill and also upon the spirit of the mother, and the 
latter is affirmed to be concealed in the object charmed. 

The charm is uttered into an object — the didila or didina 
(the term changing according as the dry coconut frond is bound 
on to a betel nut or a coconut palm). It may also be uttered 
into a creeper twined across a track, or any other object. The 
pronouncer of the incantations chews ginger, stands three 
or four feet away from the object charmed and utters the 
charm in short staccato phrases with a vicious spitting of 
ginger on to the object charmed, punctuating each phrase 
(roughly as I have phrased it), and taking care that his shadow 
falls behind and not in front of him. 

It is worth noting that the great beak of the hornbill is 
connected with a disease that eats away the nose in the typical 
gangosa case. Great beak and eaten-away nose is a fair 
antithesis. To get the hornbill is to get gangosa. To get 
the snake is to get paralysis. Here again, in lithe snake and 
paralysed limb is a similar antithesis. Other charms go by 
hkeness rather than antithesis, however, as will appear later. 

I shall not detail other incantations, for those I know follow 
the same pattern as that of Kalena sigasiga. In the incantation 
that causes paralysis, snake dweller of Kulada, snake of Bwakela, 
snake of Giuri, snake of Tokuku, snake of Lamona, snake of 
Koiyawabu, snake of Doweta, snake of Dilia, snake of Selewegia, 
and snake of Diu lead the strophes — -peering out from his 
cave or crevice. The last strophe summons a slippery fish 
termed tonewa into the object charmed. (There is no mythical 
ancestry cited in the last strophe of this paralysis charm, or 

1 LM K '-K\ i i 
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PLAl'B \'ll 

Disease Infliction 


in the charm for tertiary yaws ; of the three I worked out in 
detail it is found in the gangosa charm only.) The snake 
Double is commanded to twine about the arm bands and 
leg bands of the victim, to twist the limb about, to stiffen it. 
There is a refrain of “ I cut thighs, chest, arms, temples, throat, 
hips to the roots ” — ^the utterer of the charm here dividing 
the work between the snake Double and himself. 

Tertiary yaws is lobwaloga. Btoaloga is a rock limpet. 
My informant took one from a rock, pointed to its ugly oval 
“ foot ” and said that it resembled the open sores of tertiary 
yaws. The bwaloga of Kapoka, of Ulogu, of Sawaiowas, 
of Koyatabu, of Dilia, of Garea is commanded to crumble 
the arm like rotted wood, to rot the leg, to twist and stiffen 
and line the limbs with sores. The leg is commanded to 
burst open, the wattle tree of Bwebweso (abode of the spirits 
of the dead) burst open its seed pods, and the names of two 
deep sea fish, one of almost comically ugly appearance, the 
other of vile appearance, are named. 

The term for catching a tabu, a disease, is enunulatui. 
Charms such as these cause all disease, and conversely where- 
ever a diseased person is found there are accounts of his or her 
success with the other sex, or success in trade, or success in 
the garden — in which case an envious and more backward 
rival has intervened as is the custom ; or the diseased person 
may have stolen from a tree protected by a tabu. Again, a 
man will put a tabu on a woman who has refused his 
advances, improper or otherwise. 

My personal boy contracted lomague while on the sea. 
He got mague — a shell-fish, the sting of which kills — a child 
was killed so in my vicinity in Basima. In other words he 
had a swelling in his arm due to exposure to the sun (the heat 
beating down on the open canoe) and paddling. He was 
in some fear — the mague had entered his arm, not a shell-fish 
in material form, but its double of the tabu. He had counter 
incantation performed. He then had his arm ligatured tightly 
near the arm-pit. This was to prevent “ it ” from entering 
his body. If “ it ” entered beyond the arm-pit he was a 
dead man. Such is the spiritual yet semi-material nature 
of the pantheon of demons, that the natives command by 
incantation and direct upon their neighbours who had excelled 
them in some native pursuit, or angered them otherwise, 
and with which they protect private property in trees remote 
from the village. It would be unthinkable to tabu a tree in 


144 The Black Art 

the village. Everyone would contract the disease by 
propinquity to it. 

The following are some of the names of other diseases — 

Native name. 

Logumo . 

Logaga . 






Cerebral malaria and 

Inflammation of the 

Intestinal trouble 

Intestinal “ eating out ” 


Wasting in hookworm . 

Demon involved. 

The white-headed Osprey. 

The paper wasp. 

The shark. 

A small flying sea-water 

A swollen-looking shell. 

A small eagle that lives on 
snakes exclusively. 

Porcupine fish. 

Sakwara is a tree, the leaves 
of which wilt with remark- 
able rapidity when 

There are many other names I have which I do not under- 
stand as I do not know the fauna, names of shell-fish and fish 
mainly, and I have not seen the diseases they name. 

In another class there are sosomwakumwakupwa incontinence 
of urine, lomolo incontinence of semen, and one or two others 
that appear to have no connection with fauna or flora — 
incantations that dispense with such natural aids. Lobonu 
ulcers {bonu being the ordinary term for ulcer), lobutobuto, 
leg “asleep”, and several minor troubles have not their in- 
cantations perhaps — they are of minor importance and no 
one prides himself or herself on being able to inflict them. 
Lolawa, boils, has its incantation, however. 

The Doubles may be exorcized out of the charmed object 
by the man who summons them ; only he who knows the 
incantation to summon a zoological or a botanical Double 
knows also the incantation to exorcize it. As each tabu is 
a separate incantation so also each exorcism is a separate 
incantation, and a tabu and its exorcism go together, never 
apart. The exorcizing spells are termed Mas. Different 
families own their different tabus and Mases — so it is possible 
to protect private property. There is not too much over- 
lapping in their possession in a community. In order to get 
at his own private tree a man must first exorcize the charm 
he has put upon it. The exorcisms are also used to cure disease. 
Women take watergourds to a person who knows the tabu 
and exorcism of the disease from which one or their kin is 
suffering, the person breathes the exorcism into the water. 

Disease Infliction 145 

and the women return to bathe the invalid with it. This 
procedure is often to be seen. 

The exorcism for gangosa is a repeated injunction to the 
spirit to fly away. “ They fly away, they go, they fly away 
quickly.” The plural “ they ” is due to putautaona. 
Putautaona is said to occur when one man coming on another 
man’s property protected by the sign of the tabu is not deterred 
thereby. He superimposes his own tabu on the owner’s 
tabu. He then uses the exorcism of his own tabu and names 
at the beginning of his exorcism the names of the tabus which 
he knows the owner of the tree possesses, as well as the name 
of his own tabu. In treating sickness every care is taken 
to obtain the exorcism proper to the disease. Here, however, 
the superimposing of a second tabu is evidently thought to 
make a difference. At the same time I do not believe that 
putautaona is very consistently practised. In point of fact 
there is usually tremendous respect for and fear of any tabu 
protected tree. I was told of definite cases of putautaona 
and stealing from a tabu protected tree ; but they occurred 
in time of famine and drought when the poorer persons, who 
had few or no trees, were driven by urgent necessity, careless 
of risk. Putautaona is, however, typical of the ” try it out ” 
competitive feeling about magic. 

After the thief has put his own disease on the tree, on top 
of the different disease put on originally by the owner, and 
used the exorcism for his own disease, modified by the addition 
of the names of the tree owner’s disease charms, he (or she) 
climbs the tree and steals. Then after stealing the thief re- 
imposes his or her own disease spell without exorcism, as 
it is believed that a didila or a didina, the dried coconut frond 
tied about the tree trunk, will slip to the ground if it is left 
untenanted by a disease. Hence the rightful owner of a 
tree, in exorcizing his own disease charm, names other disease 
charms also and uses the plural form — a precaution against 
stealing having occurred. 

Here we see that the strong thieving tendency of the natives 
sometimes breaks through their own very great fear of sorcery, 
and makes a subversion of magical dogma in doing so. The 
dogma is most strongly stated that only the exorcism proper 
to gangosa will drive out the effects of the gangosa spell when 
they are contracted, only the exorcism proper to tertiary yaws 
will drive out the effects of the tertiary yaws spell when they 
are contracted, and so on. A person afflicted with gangosa 

146 The Black Art 

is never treated with the exorcism for tertiary yaws or vice versa. 
But in stealing, a tree affected with gangosa may be exorcized 
with the exorcism for tertiary yaws or some other disease, 
the exorcism being modified by the addition of supplementary 
references to other diseases than that for which it is the true 
and traditional exorcism as used invariably in treating actual 
cases of disease. 

The words used in the tabu are avoided in the exorcism — 
most conspicuously ; different places entirely than those used 
in its summons are advised for the Double’s retreat. The 
tabu is exorcized from all about, the lolas intoner turning over 
stray stones and sticks, digging up loose earth, and exorcizing 
in all crannies and crevices with anxious care, gently striking 
the objects of his exorcism with a rhythmical series of blows 
from a short stick he wields, in this way punctuating the phrases 
of the lolas (much as the phrases of the tabu were punctuated 
with spitting of ginger). 

The following is the text of the lolas for gangosa, the 
exorcism for the tabu cited in full above : — 

(Place-name) dutuna you fly to 

dutuna you fly nesting there 
(Place-name) nabana you flee to 
tabu lobinama 

I leave the village in ignorance of an impending attack 
they fly away, they go. 

(Place-name) kapoka you flee to 

tabu losilai (paralysis) 
tofru .lobinama (gangosa) 

I leave the village in ignorance of an impending attack 
they fly away, they go. 

magibweli you flee to (a cave near the extreme east of tewara) 
mwaniwara you flee to (the extreme easterly point of the island) 

(Place-name) tuesia you flee to 
tabu lobinama 

I leave the village in ignorance of an impending attack 
they fly away, they go. 
my didila from its tip (lit. “ eye ”) 
my rock from its edges 
my scraper away of rubbish from its edge 
they fly away they go 

throw away refuse. 

(Place-name) uloga you flee to 
tabu lobinama 
tabu losilai 

I leave the village in ignorance of an impending attack 
they fly away, they go. 

and so over several stanzas with little variation to a conclusion 
with nothing variant except the verb butubutu, to stamp heavily 
in going, and an exphcit exorcism of putautaona. 

Teacher and Pupil 147 

The exorcism of paralysis commands the lomwata to fly 
away (a flying snake, this Double) and finally, after much 
repetition of verbs of flight, helps its exit by reference to small 
shell-fish that scatter from the rocks at a man’s approach 
and by reference to the eggs of two seashore birds, Yodudu 
and Legiagia, eggs which no native has ever succeeded in 
finding. The Double is referred to as makamakaiau, the 
word for spirit used of the spirit of the human dead. 

The exorcism for tertiary yaws is similar in its tenor. 
I learnt no new thing from it after carefully working it out. 
So much as we have learnt is the etiology and treatment of 
indigenous disease. I have considered it somewhat ex- 
clusively from the point of view of tree protection. When 
the charms are used in feuds the customary procedure is to 
breathe the spell into a bush creeper about the track that 
the intended victim is known to be ascending. The sorcerer 
then retreats into hiding nearby to assure himself of his victim 
coming into bodily contact with the creeper. After such 
contact has been made the sorcerer takes the creeper with 
him!, keeps it in his hut, and ultimately burns it over a fire. 

When the exorcism is breathed into water with which 
an afflicted person is to be bathed for curing, there is no striking 
of stray stones and sticks lying near with a tapping stick wielded 
by the exorcist. The exorcist as already stated does not 
usually approach his patient. Water gourds are carried to 
him. He breathes the charm into the water in the gourd, 
closes up the gourd and gives it to the patient’s kinswoman, 
who has come to him. She returns and bathes the patient 
with the water. In all manner of its operation the spell is 
given a local habitation with which the person to be afflicted 
by it must come into bodily contact. All the disease spells, 
it is believed, lead inevitably to death, unless the diseased 
patient is treated with the correct exorcism. This exorcism 
may recover the patient entirely. Often it only prevents 
death, not deformity. Since many of the indigenous diseases 
cause deformity rather than death, the curative exorcisms 
are automatically credited with more power than they deserve. 


'Teacher and Pupil 

In discussing further the relationship between teacher 
of spells of the black art and learner we shall not confine 

148 The Black Art 

ourselves to the tabu spells. Here the teacher is the mother’s 
brother of the learner. (See discussion of the improbability 
of father teaching son tabu spells, pp. 80-2.) In other spells 
of the black art, which we are now approaching, with very 
few exceptions the teacher is either the father, the mother’s 
brother, or elder Boundary Man cross-cousin of the learner. 
Without seniority. Boundary Man would hardly have a know- 
ledge superior to that of his Owner cross-cousin. 

Any spell of black magic, the tabtis included, is taught 
in several sessions. The greatest care is taken that the spell 
is learnt word perfect. The pupil strengthens his memory 
by a charm to assure learning correctly. This charm is done 
with a process known as tolu. Four holes are scooped close 
to one another in a straight inland-seaward line on a slope. 
When water is found in the most inland hole some of it is 
used for drinking, a spell being uttered during the drinking. 
This spell is directed towards clearing the stomach of digested 
and partly digested food. Then a channel is made from this 
hole to the next seaward one so that water flows down it. Water 
from this hole is used for drinking, the drinker muttering a 
spell designed to ensure removing the blood from his stomach 
as he drinks. The process is repeated and at the next hole 
the spell is designed to remove water from the stomach. The 
process repeated again leads to the last most seaward hole, 
where the spell used is designed to make certain that the 
stomach is now absolutely empty (despite the last draughts 
of water, which are, of course, not considered in a sacred 
performance). The stomach is now in a receptive condition 
to hold magic. As in the Trobriands it is the seat of memory. 

Once the pupil has declared himself satisfied that he knows 
the incantation perfectly he must undergo a most serious 
ordeal. The teacher must place the spell on an object and 
bring it into contact with his pupil’s body. If the pupil has 
learned the spell and the exorcism word-perfect this attempt 
at infection cannot succeed ; for his magic is the same as, 
and equal in power to, that which is used against him. If this 
is the case the pupil’s magic is believed to be the complete 
and perfect prophylactic. But if the pupil does not retain 
his firm memory of the spell and exorcism then his magic 
is inferior, will not resist the attack, and the unfortunate pupil 
will contract the disease. Some youths are afraid of learning 
sorcery, but the great majority realize that it should be done, 
and face the ordeal bravely. 

Teacher and Pupil 149 

The next step is a further obligatory test. The pupil 
who, as is usual, has survived the ordeal, must now “ try out ” 
the spell on someone else, someone not too closely related to 
him. Theoretically it should be the first person he encounters, 
but actually one man told me that it was customary to avoid 
encountering close relatives and friends until the test had been 
made. It is singular that, despite this emphasis on testing, 
“ trying out,” of hocus pocus, nevertheless every native swears 
that the hocus pocus is powerful, and lively fears, quarrels, 
secret vendettas, and sometimes undisguised murders flow 
from the belief in its strong efficacy. The concept of proof 
is not sufficiently stringent. Once in a while a man uses a 
spell on another and the other happens to sicken shortly after. 
Meanwhile, when the owner of the spell teaches it to another 
he always says ; “ I used it on one man ; the day after, it took 
effect, and he died immediately.” A statement that is a lie 
is used always in warranting the efficacy of the spell. It is 
a social lie, socially always used in the circumstances, a manner 
of lie that descends from father to son or from mother’s 
brother to sister’s son quite irrespective of the actual experience 
of any one generation in the use of the spell ; and quite surely 
the faith in the force of magic is such that it is really a faith 
which is impervious to individual experience, or individual 
conceptions of proof in ordinary secular affairs. The fact 
that magic can enjoin an obligatory test case such as that in- 
cumbent upon the young learner of sorcery, and yet have 
the faith in it undimmed by such testing, is curious. And yet 
again it is not so curious. For sickness, disease, and death 
are common enough. No other explanation of them than 
the sorcery and witchcraft used by living persons near by, 
for they must be near by, exists. The neophyte whose own 
test of his own spell yields a negative result will not betray 
any feeling of inferiority over it, except by boasting beyond 
the limits of reason, as is commonly done in teaching the spell 

I do not know if failure is ever even self-admitted. If so 
it would be the last secret of the Dobuan soul, and in view 
of the obvious success of others as measured by the sicknesses 
and deaths that occur, the mainspring of fear. What is certain 
is that fear far beyond reason is actually present. 

Testing out of magic is not confined to black magic, as 
we have seen. It is the first step invariably. The testing 
of the pupil by the teacher is the individual departure. 


The Black Art 


Witchcraft and Sorcery 

Death is caused by witchcraft, sorcery, poisoning, suicide, 
or by actual assault. There is no concept of accident. Falling 
from coconut palms or other trees is due to witchcraft ; 
similarly of other accidents. 

When the Tewara men were in the Amphletts on an over- 
seas voyage they went for the night to a small sandbank near by 
to obtain sea-birds’ eggs. The canoe was not well beached. 
It floated off in the night, the supports of the outrigger boom 
smashed, and outrigger boom and canoe sank separately. 
Fortunately both were washed up on a sand-bar within 
swimming distance. Every man blamed the flying witches. 
“ They charm so that we sleep like the dead and do not guard 
our canoe. They lay no hand on the canoe. They say ‘ you 
go to sea ’ and the canoe goes.” Some of the men blamed 
their own women of Tewara, declaring that their habits were 
vile. Some blamed the women of Gumasila, who were jealous, 
presumably, of their taking sea-birds’ eggs from an island near 

Witchcraft is the woman’s prerogative, sorcery the man’s. 
A witch does all of her work in spirit form while her body 
sleeps, but only at the bidding of the fully conscious and fully 
awake woman and as the result of her spells, it is said. Not 
only is all that we term accident as opposed to sickness ascribed 
exclusively to witchcraft, but a particular way of causing 
illness and death is the monopoly of women. This method 
is that of spirit abstraction from the victim. 

The man, as sorcerer, has the monopoly of causing sickness 
and death by using spells on the personal leavings of the victim. 
When the diviner of the person responsible for an illness 
beards a witch he says : “ Restore JC’s spirit to him ” ; when he 
beards a man he says : “ Produce A’s personal leavings that you 
have in your house. Such personal leavings may be remains 
of food, excreta, footprints in sand, body dirt, or a bush creeper 
with a malevolent charm first breathed into it which the sorcerer 
watched his victim brush against and which he subsequently 
took to his house to treat further. 

Moving among the men mainly I soon became aware of 
a convention. Death is always referred to the toerebana. 
That village is weeds and grass, that island is uninhabited now — 

Witchcraft and Sorcery 151 

the flying witches. Yet these same men in reality feared 
sorcery as much as witchcraft, all had their killing pow'ers, 
and little by little I heard of what they had done with them. 
By convention only, death is referred to the women’s activities. 
Underneath the convention was the knowledge that men them- 
selves had a great hand in it — only this is not referred to by 
men, except in great confidence that usually betrays itself 
first in a panic and is pressed home from the panic by 
the field worker. The sorcery of other places is referred to 
freely — the sorcerers there, the danger of poison in the food 
offered one. 

The women do not seem to have enough solidarity to 
turn the tables and to blame all death upon the barau, the male 
practitioner, as they might. Instead, they voice the general 
convention — the flying witches are responsible. The diviner 
takes no notice of this convention of speech. He is as likely 
to divine a sorcerer as a witch in any concrete case of illness. 

The women, however, have a counter convention established. 
No woman will admit to a man that she knows a witchcraft 
spell. The men have the benefit of a general alibi. But 
a man will admit to his wife that he knows death-dealing spells, 
whereas she will not reciprocate. The women have the benefit 
of an individual alibi. The diviner, and all persons discarding 
courtesy of speech, take no more account of the women’s alibi 
than of the men’s. Courtesy of speech in direct conversation 
matters greatly in Dobu. If A tells B that B's greatest friend 
is vile, B replies : “ Yes, he is vile.” B may take secret measures 
to revenge himself on A, but in conversation there is never 
any controversy in such a matter. 

The Dobuan men are quite certain that the women of 
the Trobriands do not practice witchcraft spells, as they are 
equally certain that their own women do so practise. Accord- 
ingly the men of Dobu feel safer in the Trobriands among 
a strange people of a strange speech than they do in their 
own homes — in direct and striking contrast to their greater 
fear in the Amphletts and in parts of Fergusson Island than 
in their own homes, and in contrast also to their greater fear 
in other Dobuan districts than in their own home districts. 
I saw this most clearly for myself ; there was no doubt about 
their attitudes — considerable fear at home, sharpened greatly 
in all strange places, but blunted in the Trobriands. Whether 
this great certainty of feeling is founded on a solid fact that 
women in Dobu do practise witchcraft spells, or merely on 

152 The Black Art 

acceptance of the Trobriand freedom from Dobuan-like fears, 
I should be loath to say. I have worked with the men in- 
timately and I know that the diviner’s discarding of the 
convention clearing the male sex is correct. I know the men 
complain about the lying they believe there is in the women’s 
convention. But only a woman working with women could 
tell what the facts are — whether they are really innocent or 
whether they are putting up a convention counter to the men’s. 
Personally I suspect the latter. The women certainly own 
tabus. A few men say themselves that they penetrated beneath 
the women’s convention and actually got witchcraft spells 
from women by threatening them with violence. Such men 
are few, and may be telling the truth or not. The probability 
is that women do own spells, however. The witch charged 
as a witch by the diviner summoned to a sick person does not 
deny witchcraft any more often than a sorcerer in a similar 
position denies sorcery. Such denials are few in all, for a 
reason that we shall discuss later. It would be unreasonable 
that women should suffer so without benefit when spells may 
be so easily made from the natural expression of hate. 
Innovation in spells occurs despite native belief to the contrary. 
In the kula magic we shall meet Tauwau, the culture hero 
who created galvanized iron roofs, nailed houses, bully beef 
in tins, and European diseases. Side by side with Tauwau 
in the magic are lines that are as old as any. Sometimes 
katana, fire vented forth from the pubes of flying witches, 
is seen at night. Then the village gathers together around 
its fires, which are kept burmng all night, and none retires 
to the house to sleep. The entire village became more than 
usually dormant in the afternoon on such occasions. On other 
occasions a woman would wake from a nightmare convinced 
that the flying witches were chasing her spirit and were just 
outside baulked by her spirit’s good luck in getting home 
before them. Then the night would be hideous with a ghastly 
yelling or alternate high and low shrieking, expressing such 
fear in its very sound as to be contagious enough to myself 
who knew its origin. Next day sometimes the woman and 
her husband were outwardly serene and I had to get the whole 
story from someone else. But sometimes the woman or her 
husband would be shaken and ill and drawn in appearance 
all day, confined to the mat— in which case I dosed the patient 
with salts or quinine according to taste. 

Because of danger from witch or sorcerer it is not advisable 

Witchcraft and Sorcery 153 

to go alone. Frequently in broad daylight I was warned not 
to do it. “ You go alone ” in surprise and in dissuasion. 
In strange places they looked after me well. Once in Raputat 
of Sanaroa I went with three natives, fresh from the canoe 
under the hot sun, to bathe in a cool spring ten minutes away 
from the shore. Two bathed and went away on an errand. 
One remained. I was resting in my bathing V’s and not 
going back. My native hung about chewing a stem of grass 
and gazing at the distance. This lasted a long while. Finally 
I said : “ It’s all right, Kisian, I know the track now.” “ No, 
I shall wait for you. New Guinea vile — ^witchcraft, sorcery 
is here.” That is typical. Even at home it is rare for anyone 
to be alone except on adultery or stealing bent ; and often 
adultery and stealing are co-operative ventures, two men 
going together. Many means of death exist by day. Only 
in the night, however, bats are abroad. If a bat approaches 
a house, crying aloud, panic rises. They pale quite visibly, 
talk stops abruptly ; and on several occasions it happened 
when natives were in my house by night, they said “ toerehana ” 
in an undertone, sat saying nothing for five or ten minutes, 
and then as soon as was decent got up and slunk away. The 
night is a little more feared than the day because it is the time 
for sleep when the spirits of the sleepers go abroad in the pursuit 
of the black art. Most of the black art of the daytime is done 
in the flesh. But fear of the night work is only slightly greater 
than fear of the day work. 

The situation created by witchcraft beliefs in marriage 
we have already treated. The members of village * may 
refer freely to their fear of certain women of village y, until 
inter-marriage takes place. Then comment is forced under- 
ground, as it is a great insult to ” call witchcraft ” within 
a husband’s range of gaining report of comment upon his 
close relatives in law or upon his wife. All men have a nervous- 
ness of their wives’ complicity, and a fear of mothers-in-law. 
Only the most reckless will say priArily of another man : ‘‘It 
would appear that last night he slept with his wife — ^but did 
he sleep with his wife ? Or was she far away ? With an 
empty skin at his side he slept.” 

I may add that as well as witches who are mortal women 
{werebana) there are also sea witches {gelaboi) who have no 
present human embodiment. 


The Black Art 


Methods of Divination 

Divining is usually done by water-gazing or crystal-gazing. 
In the former case water is put into a wooden bowl and hibiscus 
flowers thrown on the water. The diviner charms : “ the 
water is water no longer.” He cuts the water-in-changed- 
nature open. At the bottom of the cut he sees the spirit of 
the witch who has abstracted the spirit of his patient and who 
now has it concealed, or the spirit of the sorcerer who has 
the sumwana, body leavings of the patient and now has them 
concealed. Volcanic crystals may be used instead of water. 

Spirit abstraction by a gelaboi may be indicated by the 
patient making delirious or semi-delirious statements about 
canoes at sea, canoes used by these spiritual gelaboi. Great 
attention is paid to the patient’s ravings if there are any. 

If the patient runs about in delirium then again his sumwana 
has been taken by a sorcerer. The sorcerer in such case has 
bound up the sumwana, winding it about in some receptacle 
with bush creeper. This winding is compared to the way 
in which the tree oppossum, Cuscus, winds its tail around 
branches and darts about apparently aimlessly. The sorcerer’s 
winding of sumwana has made the patient run about like the 

The diviner may bend forward the middle finger of the 
patient, grasping it tightly at the first joint. If the tip of the 
finger does not flush then spirit abstraction by a witch has 
occurred. If it does flush then the patient’s sumwana has 
been taken by a sorcerer. 

Again the diviner may tell by the body odour of the patient 
the sex of the person responsible. None could define how 
this was done. 

These measures of noting the symptoms of delirium, 
or of trying the finger bending or the smelling tests, precede 
the water or crystal gazing which finally determines the exact 
identity of the person responsible for the illness. The 
attention paid to delirium narrows down the circle of people 
within which the diviner’s judgment may operate, but the 
other two tests leave him free by their nebulousness. Flush- 
ing or no flushing in the finger bent is rarely so obvious as 
to rule out subjective appraisal of the results, a subjective 
factor that is even more obvious in the smelling test. 

Methods of Divination 155 

Unless the agent revealed is a gelaboi, a yatcda or, as it is 
also called, a bwokumatana follows. The diviner summons 
the village, a member of which he has “ seen ” in his water- 
gazing. The person divined is charged with the deed by 
the diviner. Then follows a promise of cessation of enmity 
and of active black magic by the witch or the sorcerer charged, 
provided her or his just complaint against the patient is remedied 
by the patient immediately. The patient pays the black 
magician and the diviner, and recovers — unless unremedied 
grudges undivined as yet still exist elsewhere. 

After a death the kin of the dead divine whose grudge 
killed their ki nsman by watching the corpse as the mourners 
file by one by one as is the custom. When the guilty person 
passes the corpse it is believed to twitch in one place or another. 
So strong is this belief that twitches are probably often fancied. 
In any case common fact is often relied on rather than the 
pure magic of divination. If one man has sought out another’s 
company too much and for no reason that appears customary, 
and the latter dies, suspicion falls on his unexplained companion. 
False friendship is suspected. I heard from three different 
sources ; “ If we wish to kill a man we approach him, we eat, 
drink, sleep, work, and rest with him, it may be for several 
moons, and we wait our time ; we kawagosiana, call him friend.” 
It will be recalled that the black art is believed to be in- 
effective at a distance as it is conducted by men. Men have 
to work in the flesh. Even witches are believed to confine 
their work to within the locality to which they belong. 

It is realized by the Dobuan that relationship considerations 
debar certain persons who might be responsible for the death 
from mourning, so that divination by the corpse is not perfect. 
As well as consideration of unreasonable companionship 
there is consideration of possible grudges left unhealed. Then 
again the possibility of poison in food eaten is canvassed. 
I have heard these considerations being turned over in the 
heat that followed the sudden death of a father and child 
together without marks of violence. Every meal for several 
days back was considered in detail. So also of companions 
of the pair, and old hostilities. It was all done in my presence 
in about ten minutes, provoked by the sudden reception of 
the news by two men related to the dead. 

Divination in Dobu is practised by everyone without 
magic, and by a special class with more authority and with 


The Black Art 


The Diviner at Work 

Alo’s second wife of the Brown Eagle village died. Alo 
performed the mourning observances for a year, and shortly 
after his mourning was done and he returned to his own 
Green Parrot village, he fell seriously ill. 

Bwai of the place Bwaioa, two days’ journey away, was 
summoned, as diviner. . Bwai duly performed the water-gazing 
divinatory rite, and saw at the bottom of the wooden dish 
Alo’s recently deceased wife’s mother. He pointed out that 
Alo had failed to give her her due of bananas (in an obligatory 
gift to his mother-in-law incumbent on the widower a year 
after the death of his wife). Bwai had probably made discreet 
inquiries before doing his divining, as the sequel proved. 
No objection to his divination was offered. A summons for 
the bwokumatana or yatala went out to the Brown Eagle people. 
They filed passed Alo one by one, each protesting innocence. 
When Alo’s late wife’s mother came she was given no time 
to protest. Bwai accused her of witchcraft from the evidence 
of his water-divining, and asked her if Alo had not a bad debt 
to her which he had been obdurate in paying. She admitted 
that Alo had declined to pay her her just due, and she admitted 
anger and witchcraft against him. She assured Alo that 
he would not die, at least by her witchcraft, if the bananas 
were paid her at once. She would restore his spirit to him 
the moment the bananas were received by her. He would 
not die while she lived. But if she herself died, he would 
also be likely to die at the same time (with a veiled threat 
and a shrewd warning against his undertaking future sorcery 
reprisals against her). 

Alo s kin pointed out forcibly to the witch mother-in-law 
and her kin that not so long ago the witch’s daughter had 
died. They had felled a sago tree, worked it, cooked the 
sago and brought it to the witch and her kin for their eating. 
If Alo were to die now, the return gift would be due. The 
witch and her kin would have to fell a sago tree, work and 
cook sago for them to eat. The diviner had put the entire 
matter on a sound business footing. Alo rapidly put on 
several stone in weight and recovered. I did not see the 
affair. The above is Alo’s account of it. 

When the diviner makes a just charge, as that which Bwai 

The Diviner at Work 157 

made in the case of Alo bewitched by his late wife’s mother, 
there is little thought of sorcery or witchcraft reprisals being 
made by the sick person on recovery. It is held that the 
black art has been practised fairly, its justice has been made 
public, justice has been appeased, and the affair is over. 
If the sick person does not recover, but dies, his death is not 
attributed to the anger of a witch who has been publicly 
exposed and publicly appeased and placated, but to someone 
else who up till death supervened was undetected and un- 

The working of this system may be examined in much 
more detail in my forthcoming study of the natives of the 
Admiralty Islands. There illness and death are attributed 
not to human agents, but to spirits. There I was able to 
examine the system in detail unhampered by the very small 
size of the village as in Dobu, and by fear of Government 
interference as in Dobu. But the causes of illness and death 
are often exactly as in the case of Alo. The Admiralty Island 
diviner proceeds on almost exactly the same lines as the Dobu an 
diviner, Bwai. I saw a great deal of illness and some deaths 
as an eye-witness in the Admiralties and I know that the system 
is closely related to the Dobuan, even although the agents 
in the Admiralties are usually the spirits of the dead and only 
rarely living sorcerers, whereas in Dobu the agents are usually 
living persons and more rarely the purely spiritual sea witches. 
It will be seen that the system is a very good one in maintaining 
native custom and economic honesty. 

Just as we have seen the tabus, spells to cause disease, 
used most typically in the protection of private property in 
trees, so now we see witchcraft used most typically to enforce 
economic obligations. Tabus and witchcraft and sorcery 
may also be used in feuds. That I shall discuss in more 
detail later. Meanwhile it should be appreciated that there 
is a very strong legal background to the use of the black art. 
The natives understand how our own legal system is imposed 
with the help of rifles perfectly. They say typically : “ You 
have your rifles — we have tabu, witchcraft, and sorcery, our 
weapons.” Behind this statement is the knowledge that 
the native weapons are used to maintain native law, as well 
as in private feuds — a thing that I knew, as also my informants. 
“ If we are caught using our weapons to maintain our just 
rights by the white Government it gaols us.” 


The Black Art 


The Diviner Refuses to Work 

The case of Hill Man’s sorcery occurred in a locality which 
I did not know at all well but which I passed through three 
or four times in the course of a month. The people of this 
locality were very far removed from my home in Tewara 
and little report of me from Alo, Tawa, Kisi, Kopu, and the 
rest of my best known associates had penetrated to its people. 
Once as I passed through I asked if there had been a bzvoko- 
matana anywhere lately. One woman in a large village where 
a native church stood answered me without suspicion of my 
intentions, saying there had been a bwokomatana for her sick 
father the night before. On hearing this statement Hill 
Man arose from his hut and followed me as I moved on to the 
next village, where I intended to make further inquiries (one 
always asks in the next village in Dobu, not too much at first 
in the actual village of occurrence). I turned and asked Hill 
Man if the bwokomatana had picked on anybody. No, nobody. 
Only he himself and the sick man with his wife were in the 
bwokomatana. (This proved to be true. No diviner had 
come. The sick man had made his own charge against Hill 
Man ; Hill Man had consistently and stoutly denied the charge 
of sorcery before all the village.) He himself, Hill Man, 
was the sick man’s true blood brother, not a village “ brother ” 
(tasi-yatobara-na) merely. No evidence of sorcery had been 
revealed. It was God’s handiwork. (I knew that this was 
not native belief in any real sense.) 

At this statement I became angry and charged him directly 
with deliberate lying. What was he following me for anyway ? 
Hill Man became uneasy and took my accusation of lying 
to refer to his statement that he was not the sick man’s true 
brother. He repeated, reiterated that he was the sick man’s 
true brother, still following me. As I approached the next 
village he turned and went back. 

Everyone in the next village said that Hill Man was no 
brother of the sick man. Hill Man had married into the 
village where I had found him. His home was high on the 
hill, not on the shore. Hill Man had lied unnecessarily and 
protested far too much. Obviously he was under public 
suspicion of causing the sick man’s illness. 

I returned to the sick man’s house. There I asked of 

The Diviner Refuses to Work 159 

his daughter her father’s relationship to Hill Man. She 
replied that Hill Man was distantly related by having married 
into the same village that her father had married into. He 
came from the hill in Dobu. She replied quickly, just a 
second or two too quickly to get a prompting from another 
woman who had overheard Hill Man talking to me, and who 
prompted her : “ Hill Man is your father’s blood brother from 
the one womb.” The prompting fell a second after the 
daughter’s quick reply— the prompter looked unabashed as 
usual. The sick person’s house was half the village away 
from the house where Hill Man sat — itself the soundest 
evidence of distance of relationship. I told the too slow 
prompter to set aside deceit of such clumsy nature. The 
sick man lay in his hut somewhat emaciated. He had not 
eaten or had any bowel movement for a fortnight. He was 
incontinent of urine. He could hardly speak. I said to his 
wife : “ He will recover, don’t you think ? ” Loudly, so that 
her sick husband heard distinctly, she said : “ As likely not.” 

I then emerged from the hut — the sick man had not stirred 
from where he lay within it for the fortnight — and went over 
to Hill Man. Hill Man, without being questioned, swore 
profusely that he was a Mission man believing in God only 
(a lie — as every Dobuan native combines going to church 
or sending his children to church for fear of antagonizing 
the Mission, with the full practice of old pre-Christian custom 
in which he believes fully and thoroughly and not as a matter 
of policy merely). He went on to say that he was a native 
of Bwaioa, some three miles away across the sea. (This was 
another lie. He came from high on the hill in Dobu, hence 
his name Hill Man. Bwaioa has no villages high in the hills. 
It is a flat foreshore.) 

I put on a show of fierce resentment of Hill Man’s lies. 
Hill Man turned aside and brow-beat a woman for having 
told me too much, not the woman who had told me anything, 
but the unfortunate would-be prompter. He swore to me 
that he knew no sorcery (another lie — even twenty-year old 
boys know some sorcery ; all my servants, young boys of 
no social importance, knew sorcery spells and had told me 
of them). He reaffirmed that he was the sick man’s true 
blood brother. 

As I went home I told one man in a neighbouring locality of 
the affair. ” Hill Man is a feared and over threatening 
sorcerer,” he said. “ He never comes near my village. 

i6o The Black Art 

I never go near his. Long ago we quarrelled. I said if he 
came near my place he would taste of my sorcery. He 
retaliated in kind.” 

I sent rice with jam, tea with sugar, and a heavy dose of 
salts to the sick man. He pulled up, and left his hut for the 
first time in the fortnight the day after his first treatment. 
I kept on treating him and rapidly he recovered. His family 
sent me occasional baskets of yams in return. 

The sick man and his family still would tell me nothing 
specific. They were much afraid of Hill Man. I used 
friendliness, and found it unavaihng. But one day Hill Man 
happened to be away on an overseas canoe expedition. I got 
the family of the sick man alone, used cajolery, and I mingled 
with the cajolery some vague threats of Government and 
Mission getting them for sorcery if they would disclose nothing. 
My time was short in their place and I had to resort to rough 
and ready methods. The full story emerged, however. The 
sick man while still well had ordered Hill Man off his land. 
Hill Man had no legal right on it, and obeyed, but in a quarrel- 
some mood over his eviction. Sometime later the evictor, 
owner of the land, whom we may call X, was working in his 
garden. X required stakes to train his yam vines upon, and 
he wandered alone on the bush-covered hillside seeking and 
cutting good stakes. In the deep bush he encountered Hill 
Man, also alone and there for no legitimate purpose. What 
actually transpired I could not obtain from either one con- 
cerned. X became too agitated to talk of it, and would not 
talk. Hill Man, of course, maintained, in an almost equally 
agitated state, a stream of lies about everything and anything. 
X ran back to his garden, left all his tools lying in it, having 
scattered the stakes he had cut somewhere in the bush near 
where he had met Hill Man. He entered his hut and collapsed 
on its floor saying : “ I encountered Hill Man in the bush.” 
From that time it was that he ceased to eat, his bowels did 
not function normally, his urine was incontinent, he did not 
speak. He was forcibly given drink. So he lay in his hut 
without moving from it until a fortnight later, when I found 
him emaciated and half dead. Hill Man meanwhile denied 
vigorously having used sorcery on X. But no one believed 
Hill Man. Everyone was in fear of him. X’s family offered 
payment to diviners. No diviner would take up the case. 
It was known that the charge would have to be put against 
Hill Man. It was known that Hill Man would not admit 

The Diviner Refuses to Work i6i 

it, as it was not sorcery used by Hill Man to enforce his rights, 
sorcery that would not lead to a vendetta between X and 
Hill Man if X recovered. Hill Man could not risk the help 
towards X’s recovery that he would have to give if he publicly 
admitted his use of the black art and publicly renounced it. 

I am not a physician skilled in diagnosis but I do not believe 
that there was much organic trouble with X. There was 
no bodily sign of any trouble, and he mended too rapidly for 
his trouble to have been hookworm, which often causes great 
emaciation. Salts, rice, and tea, and someone to intimidate 
Hill Man, brought him round at once. I talked to Hill Man 
afterwards, telhng him to cease his lies immediately. I was 
so disgusted with them that I would see him put into gaol 
for sorcery if I had another one of them. My medicine was 
more powerful than his black art, and he had better cease 
it in this case if he wished to remain a free man. Hill Man 
became as meek as he had been truculent. 

What X's statement “ I encountered Hill Man in the 
bush ” in the light of X’s quarrel with Hill Man over his 
land, and A^’s illness meant to the natives I knew from a 
talk that I had heard told by my best sorcery instructor a 
considerable time before I ever met X or Hill Man. 

Christopher (a nom de plume for my informant) was 
one night alone with me in my hut. Christopher let fall 
a hint of a piece of work in the black art quite accidentally. 
I followed it up and with some pressure got it out of him. 
He began with reluctance, but soon his eyes were half starting 
from his head and he was rolling and writhing on the floor 
of my hut in active description of a thing too vigorous for 
words to do justice to — obviously re-living the scene he 
described with a thoroughly ugly intensity. 

A man had said to Christopher’s wife’s mother’s brother, 
a noted sorcerer : 

“ You are always on the sea and without new garden food.” 

Any such statement derogatory to a man’s garden is as 
great an insult as can be hurled. The garden is knit up with 
the ceremonial of the sacred — any impugning of it is to blas- 
pheme against a man’s gods. 

The wife’s mother’s brother (whom we may call Y) said 
nothing. Within himself he said “ later on ”. Later he 
spoke to Christopher. “ You will not betray me.” “ How 
should I — I who have married your sister’s daughter.” 

Y drank a great quantity of salt water to parch his throat 

i62 The Black Art 

and keep himself safe from swallowing his own black spells 
with his saliva. He chewed great quantities of ginger and 
gau to make his body hot and heat up the spells to an effective 
killing temperature. 

The intended victim, all unknowing, went alone to his 
garden in the early morning. Y and Christopher set out, 
the sorcerer with his assistant and watch-dog. The two 
performed the logau, a charm which is believed to make the 
man who utters it invisible. Christopher circled three times 
round the foot of a convenient coco-nut palm while he did 
the logau. Y and Christopher could see each other, being 
both charmed together. Others could not see them. Never- 
theless, Christopher climbed the palm to keep watch against 
possible intruders. From this height he also directed the 
movements of Y by signs towards the unconscious solitary 

Y moved in concealment, charming with spells towards 
the gardener and charming his sorcerer’s lime spatula. Then 
with the gardener facing him, and nearby where he crouched 
concealed, he burst forth with the sorcerer’s screaming shout. 
Christopher saw the gardener fall to the ground and lie writhing 
convulsively under the sorcerer’s attentions. (Christopher 
had a painful filarial swelling in his groin approaching bursting 
point — but here he hurled himself down on the floor of my 
hut and writhed, groaning horribly — re-living the scene in 
his excitement.) 

The sorcerer feinted to rap his victim gently over the 
body with his lime spatula. The body lay still. He cut 
open the body with the charmed spatula, removed entrails, 
heart, and lungs, and tapped the body again with the spatula, 
restoring its appearance to apparent wholeness (here my 
informant speaks from what he apparently believes his own 
eyes saw in the cleared garden space below). The sorcerer’s 
attentions here left the body of the victim, and transferred 
to charming the lime spatula anew. The body rose. Y said 

You name me . The body mumbled incoherently and 
received a feint at a gentle rap on the temples from the spatula. 
Again You name me ” aggressively. Again an incoherent 
mumble, and another feinted rap. So a third time. Y said 

You go . The man went to the village, and arrived raving, 
leaving his personal goods and tools in the garden. His 
children went to bring them. The man lay down writhing, 
groaning, and calling on his abstracted vital parts by name— 

The Diviner Refuses to Work 163 

by this time it was mid-day. So he lay that day and night. 
Next day the sun climbed to its zenith and he lay dead. 

Such is the account of the watch-dog in the case. At 
one stage he informed me that the lime spatula did not actually 
strike the body of the victim, but threatened striking and 
approached the skin closely only. At another stage he said 
it cut the skin. Other informants later confirmed the view 
that it did not strike the skin in such sorcerer’s procedure, 
nevertheless it cut the skin. On subsequent questioning 
Christopher clung to the view that the spatula did not strike 
the skin, but it was evident that he had some magical striking, 
magical cutting, and later magical restoring of skin in mind. 
He was not vacillating between opposing views in his own 
mind, but only struggling for words to express his conception. 
So firm was his belief that he used the language of an eye 
witness of the removal of the entrails, heart, and lungs of the 

It is clear that the sorcerer’s procedure is hypnotic in 
nature, the fear apparently being paralysing. I have seen 
a man blanch — get ready to run and threaten death in reprisal 
at the threat of sorcery, fear that lasted until the threat was 
proved otherwhere directed, despite my expressed intention 
to deal with the threatener. The fear of the sorcerer is 
tremendous in its strength. 

I believe that Christopher’s account of his adventure as 
his wife’s mother’s brother’s watch-dog was no fabrication. 
He had no need to implicate himself so closely if he was spinning 
a tale. I have never seen a human being so possessed with 
emotion as my informant, yet retaining his sanity. He 
appeared to see everything that he described once again, and 
I felt towards him much as I did towards a man that ran amuck 
with a spear in my village and raved, threatening to cut my 
throat and eat me, stuffing rubbish into his mouth to illustrate 
his intention, after I got him disarmed and was proceeding 
to truss him up. My informant was equally ugly in manner, 
and more powerfully so in that he was not in any pathological 
state. He was, however, so strongly excited that I would 
be inclined to connect the running amuck, which is a well- 
known occurrence and which I witnessed three times during 
my stay, with the state of mind engendered by witchcraft and 
sorcery. During his recital with much bodily imitation I 
kept my attention closely on him and on a possible weapon 
in case he went out of all reason. 

i 64 The Black Art 

His tale checks up with other information, less detailed 
and more ambiguous, but unquestionably referring to the 
same practice that Christopher describes. Since this in- 
formation comes from Motu, Mailu, and the North-Eastern 
Division, far scattered areas of Papua,^ we have a very good 
check on him. He was a most reliable informant and most 


Considering the Diviner 

I shall consider the diviner first from the point of view 
of justice. I do not pretend that sorcery cannot be used 
unjustly. But I do most certainly insist that the diviner’s 
craft is one in which native justice must be paid scrupulous 
regard, and in which scrupulous regard to such justice is 
paid. The diviner who did not ply his divining within just 
bounds would have had a short life in the old days. Now 
he has still the benefit of this good tradition, and as sorcery 
still goes on undiminished, he still believes that he is under 
the check of his fellows. 

Consider theoretically that Bwai, the diviner from Bwaioa, 
had selected his witch unwisely in the case of Alo’s illness. 
I have heard that in rare cases an unsatisfactory divining 
has occurred. Then the person unjustly accused of causing 
the illness and his or her relatives violently oppose the diviner — 
“ their minds towards throat cutting ”, as one informant 
phrased the situation. 

Or the diviner might be conceived to make the other possible 
mistake of accusing a person such as Hill Man, a person in 
the wrong to whom no just propitiation could be made, between 
whom and his victim no reconciliation could be effected. 

I have only three good accounts of divining ; but it is 
worthy of notice that Bwai made no mistake and acted rather 
shrewdly ; and that further a large fee (by native standards) 
is always given the diviner. An advance on the fee was sent 
out to summon a diviner by the relatives of A”, the victim 
of Hill Man, but no diviner would touch it. (This all 
occurred well before I knew of the case and had no possible 
connection vdth me or with any other white influence.) 

The diviners are not fanatics gazing altogether too 
* See pp. 284—7 for discussion of this. 

Considering the Diviner 165 

religiously, or fee seekers gazing altogether too arbitrarily 
into a bowl of water or into a volcanic crystal. They apparently 
know all that is necessary to make their work socially acceptable. 
In other words they administer native justice as well as is 
possible in terms of the fact that illness alone brings in- 
vestigation to the fore. 

My third account of divining does not belie these con- 
clusions in the slightest. Two weeks after one of the Bobo- 
Emu duels (between abandoned wife and new wife of Alo) 
Bobo fell very ill and her flesh wasted on her bones until it 
looked almost like a hide hanging loosely on a frame. The 
diviner was called in and did his divining unbeknown to me 
until afterwards. Bobo owed no one debts. She was now 
divorced, her mother and her children were living, her father 
long dead. Neither marriage exchanges of property, nor 
exchanges following a death were in point. In Dobu economic 
exchanges are not very frequent and the diviner cannot very 
often select unpaid debts as the cause of illness. In Manus 
of the Admiralties economic exchanges are due constantly, 
owing to a tremendous elaboration of exchange, so that the 
diviner is seldom at a loss. Bobo’s only enemies were Alo, 
her deserting husband, and Emu, her successor in his house. 
It is considered right and reasonable that Bobo and Emu 
should fight with stones and knives under such circumstances. 
Consequently the diviner did not select Emu as the witch 
responsible. Alo was somewhat uneasy about the issue of 
the divination. He questioned Bobo’s village sisters closely 
and tried to “ pump ” the small children of the village for 

The diviner, it appeared, had fallen back on a non-human 
explanation. The witch responsible was a sea witch, a gelaboi, 
the type that has no human embodiment. After securing 
this result from water-gazing, the diviner performed a circular 
dance with its magical song designed to get the abstracted 
spirit of his patient back from the gelaboi. The diviner is 
always summoned in from another locality than that of the 
patient, in order to secure impartiality and his own subsequent 
safety. In consequence I did not obtain the ritual used. 

It is interesting to note that gelaboi is the Trobriand term. 
A comparison of Trobriand beliefs and Dobuan beliefs reveals 
that the concept of gelaboi is almost certainly Trobriand. 
Dobuans meeting disaster at sea attribute the blame to human 
women, as we have seen in the case cited of the Tewara canoe 


The Black Art 

accident that happened during my stay. Dr. Malinowski 
has shown that the Trobrianders attribute such disasters 
to the gelaboi. They have a far greater development of the 
concept than exists in Dobu. It would appear that the diviner 
hard pressed falls back on a way of escape opened up by the 
ideas of a neighbouring culture. 

I did not know Bobo’s family well enough to know whether 
they were satisfied. Tnosi, my servant, was not. He said 
the diviner would probably communicate the name of the 
human witch later and with more secrecy to Bobo’s family. 
So there was some feeling at least that the trouble had not 
been thoroughly met. 

I regret that I can cite but three cases only. Owing to 
Administration having made sorcery or witchcraft a criminal 
offence in Papua the ethnologist is very considerably impeded. 
A search of the literature will reveal that not a single case of 
divination with all the personal implications involved has 
ever been recorded before from Papua, although various 
methods of divination in their formal aspects have been 
recorded from various places. This is entirely explicable, 
for obtaining material is beset with the greatest difficulties. 

I do not believe that the diviner touches a case after death 
has supervened, in order to divine the direction vendetta 
should take. The diviner is a well known and generally 
respected practitioner. The profession could hardly survive 
if it took up proceedings that placed it in the greatest danger. 
There is no disguising of the diviner, such as that which is 
said in West Africa to conceal his identity, and allow post 
mortem divination by him compatible with his personal safety. 

Moreover means of divination after a death are used by 
non-professionals, by the near kin of the dead for the purpose 
of vendetta. The magic in divination is decidedly secondary 
to the amount of private judgment displayed in it. Where 
there is the fire of sorcery or witchcraft there has been very 
often the smoke of quarrel. In Dobu granted the quarrel 
the subsequent black magic is practically assured. Everyone 
knows gossip of local dissensions. There is no strife over 
small points in such an atmosphere. In all small matters 
there is an over great show of cordial agreement, the sincerity 
of which is a sincere appreciation of the sorcery milieu rather 
than anything else. 

The Sorcerer in Action 



The Sorcerer in Action 

I find in my notes one instance of some play with the sorcery 
of sumwana, personal leavings. This, however, is not at 
all a gruesome story. Aines and Peter were one day far from 
home, and outside their own locality, cutting sakwara sticks 
for house building. They killed the domestic pig of Luilo, 
under the impression that it was wild bush pig. Discovering 
their mistake they concealed the dead pig in the bush and went 
home quickly hoping to escape discovery. Luilo hunted 
for his pig and finally found it when it was partially decomposed. 
Meanwhile he had ascertained that the only outsiders who 
had been about the locality had been Aines and Peter. On 
finding his pig with tell-tale spear wounds near cut sakwara 
trees, he set out to watch Aines and Peter. He collected 
sand fresh with their foot-prints. He then went to Aines 
and Peter and demanded pay for his pig — or he would work 
the sumwana sorcery on their sand tracks. Aines and Peter 
paid up, a handsome recompense. 

Such men are not men acting contrary to native ideas 
of justice. But because the braver man acting with justice 
and openly, is open, he is the sorcerer that Administration 
usually hears about, secures, and is likely to imprison — for 
exactly the wrong type of sorcery. The anti-social type 
of sorcerer is just the kind where neither openness by the 
sorcerer, before acting or after acting, nor the work of the 
diviner, is possible. Owing to native antagonism to Adminis- 
tration interfering with sorcery there is surprisingly little 
betrayal, however. This is in part resentment of over- 
lordship, in part, prospective fear of the sorcerer returning 
from prison after his term with what everyone would regard 
as a just score to settle. 

I give below the statements of an important conversation 
which I had with my mentor, Christopher, after four and 
a half months of his company. We went to a solitary place — 
a bare rock slab on the edge of a great cliff, on a day when 
the New Guinea mainland showed up clearly in the distance. 
Christopher chanted the names of the spells for making the 
charmer invisible. I took out my note book, and wrote four 

i68 The Black Art 

names. The fifth I forgot, and I could not get it out of 
him again. 

I asked for details — Akasaoleole or Duntna Moligogona, 
which he had sung over rapidly and had come out intending 
to give me — W'as to make a man invisible for stealing purposes. 
I could use it in Sydney and take what I liked from the shops 
without fear of detection. He had stolen often with it and 
never been caught — cooked pig and what not. 

Then Sineboganbaura ? — That was to make a man invisible 
from the flying witches in time of shipwreck. 

Then Mokakasi ? — That was to enable a man to strike 
and kill a woman with her children in the garden (remaining 
invisible the while as in the stealing aid). The sorcerer’s 

And Sekaikaiawana ? — Like Mokakasi. 

Here I took down Akasaoleole and had it interpreted from 
the magical language into the normal language of every day 

Then we talked idly — and I said : 

“ Mokakasi ? — I will write that down.” 

He gave it me somewhat reluctantly, looking at me strangely. 
Then after, before I had time to ask for its interpretation, 
he said ; “ My friend, I lied ; it is not a logau — but a yauboda.” 
He got up, strung a creeper across the path charmed in spitting 
on to it — showed me how a woman or a man or child coming 
along the track would breast it or take it in the stomach and 
push it to the side — crawled into a bush near by, concealed 
himself — how he would wait till the person passed by. 

He came out, took the creeper in hand, charming briefly 
as he did so. Then he told me how he would smoke it all 
day on the smoking shelf and at night crumble it in his hand 
and bum it on a firestick. He illustrated how meanwhile 
he would feign sickness, lying contorted and groaning horribly. 
He said he would eat nothing that day or night — if he did 
his stomach would get cold — it was necessary that his body 
should be hot in the morning the man would be dead, the 
mourners would come wailing and find him washed, bathed 
all over, anointed with oil, his face painted and all in best 
array so he would eat. But all day and night his closest 
relatives would think him dying. 

He told me how it could be done to a child, or to a pregnant 
woman, how the child would die within her and how she 
would die from it. 


The Sorcerer in Action 

Then I went over the charm in detail — 

inside your earth cave 
your throat clogs up 

(as the crab clogs up his hole) 
your body fat congeals 
your foot crouches bends 
your seat of the voice rots 
your heel gives under you standing 
your seat of urine secretion clogs up 
yovu tongue hangs out with spue vomiting 
your intestines flow out your anus. 

All this in the esoteric language where lakua, crab, becomes 
mokakasi, for example. 

Then he took the creeper and repeated the formula again 
for unloosing it after the victim’s body had been seen to brush 
it aside — 

your throat (i.e. mind) I roll up 
your heart I crumble up 
I crumble up striking dead 
your throat (seat of mind) I roll up 

rolling the creeper compact in his hand. Again he illustrated 
the smoking of it, the feigned illness and groaning on his 
part, the burning of the rolled up creeper at night. 

I waited silent a while. He said : “ Two men I killed so”. 
“ For what reason ? ” I asked. 

He told me how his father-in-law, a noted and feared 
sorcerer, had given him the charm, how a certain man had 
acted in a vain and proud manner. He had said : “ That — 
he does not know mokakasi. His father-in-law has not given 
it him.” So I said : “ Very well — you slight me in proud 
fashion — later I will kill you.” He beached his canoe at 
Muria. I twined the dutu creeper on the track — charmed 
it and hid. He brushed it aside — I saw it. I lay feigning 
sickness all day and night — I did not do so in the village — 
I remained in the bush. I did not eat. He fell sick. Next 
morning he was dead.” 

“ And the other man ? ” I asked. 

“ That was overseas exchange. He (naming the man) 
got from my debtor the necklace which my debtor should 
have given me in return for an armshell I had given him before. 
I did in like manner to him. Next day he was dead.” 

“ You gave them the poison,” I said, using the term for 
the sorcerer’s poisoning tactics. 

“ That,” he said “ is different, another method.” 

“ You combined the methods ? ” I said. 

lyo The Black Art 

“ No,” he said, “ the poison is given without magic. That 
was a child I killed.” 

“ Why ? ” I said. 

“ My father told me of the poison, it is budobudo, plenty 
of it grows by the sea. The day after to-morrow we shall 
go and I shall instruct you in it. I wanted to try it out. We 
draw the sap from it. I took a coco-nut, drank from it, squeezed 
the sap into it, the remainder, and closed it up. Next day 
I gave it to the child, saying : “ I have drunk of it, you may 
drink.” She fell ill at mid-day. In the night she died.” 

“ She was of X village.” 

” No, her village is grass and weeds.” 

L >” I said, naming his father’s village. 

“ Yes,” he said, “ my classificatory cross-cousin, father’s 
village sister’s daughter. My father poisoned her mother 
with the budobudo. I poisoned the orphan later.” 

“ What was the trouble ? ” I said. 

“ She bewitched my father, he felt weak — he killed her 
and his body grew strong again.” 

” You chew mwadi (ginger) ? ” he asked. 

“ No,” I said. “ Not generally. I have chewed it.” 

” It sharpens the charm,” he said, “ we spit with it.” 

“ You combine the charm and the budobudo " I said. 

” No,” he replied. “ If we like we do. It is not necessary. 
The budobudo was different — that was a child. The charm 
was different — that was two men — in one moon one man ; 
two moons later, the second.” (Later) “The Boyowans use 
soki. Here we who know this secret, use budobudo." 

Christopher gave me some plant food to eat when he 
returned to the village. Fresh from his revelations I hesitated 
just one second before eating, although the food came from 
his wife s pot. He noticed it, for his eyes bulged with a queer 
expression. He was wondering, as I was, how far we really 
trusted each other. 

The fear of being poisoned dominates native life. Food 
or tobacco is not accepted except within a small circle. The 
woman of the house when cooking does not leave the pot and 
go away for as long as a half minute even. The antithesis 
“ The Boyowans (Trobriands) use soki ; here we who know 
the secret use budobudo ” was merely an expression of the 
moment. For at a later time Christopher told me that he 
had caught a soki fish, and had it now concealed in a private 
hiding place in the bush. It is a globe fish with a gall which 

An Evaluation of Claims 171 

contains a swift and fatal poison. Despite the fear of accepting 
food or drink, poisoned, from false friends, mistakes are some- 
times made. 

To act in a proud or in any way overbearing manner is 
regarded as a great crime in Dobu. It is resented most keenly. 
The economic situation regarding overseas exchange as 
mentioned in Christopher’s account will be more fully ex- 
plained later when we discuss wabuwabu in the kula. The 
practice of “ trying out ” sorcery or poison we have already 
mentioned in the section on Teacher and Pupil. 


An Evaluation of Claims 

It is apparent that we must pause to consider how effective 
the black art of Dobu actually is in attaining its objects. It 
must be remembered that magic is an element of social prestige. 
The magician will inevitably claim results when he sells a 
spell or a magical technique for payment or when he hands 
it down to his heir. The rainmaker will tell of droughts 
broken, the gardener will tell of great harvests. The sorcerer 
in handing on a tabu will tell of persons who contracted a 
disease from his tabu. Such beliefs are patently false. What- 
ever else suggestion may do I have heard no evidence that 
it can produce yaws or gangosa or elephantiasis, the objects 
of the tabus. 

Now sorcery in general is but a part of the magical complex, 
and subject to the same limitations. Let us examine first 
the alleged poison used by Christopher, the sap of the tree 
budobudo. I secured specimens which were identified by 
Kew Botanical Gardens, through the courtesy of the Botany 
Department of the University of Sydney, Australia, as Cerbera 
odollam, Hamilt. Cerbera odollam has been analysed by M. 
Greshoff.^ I give a translation of the relevant passage : 

Cerbera Odollam Hamilt. 

“ As experience has long since taught that the poisonous 
qualities of this plant are situated in its seeds, these were 
taken as a starting point of our chemical research. 30 grams 
of pulverized seed were extracted with spirits containing 

* Erste Verslag van vet Onderzock Naar de Planten itoffen van Sederlandsch 
Indie (Batavia, i8go), Hoofstuck iv, pp. 70-6. 

172 The Black Art 

acetic acid, and examined with Stas-Otto’s method ; it then 
appeared that already from the acid liquid a poisonous sub- 
stance is shaken out by ether. This substance, injected into 
a toad, caused violent spasms followed by tetanus with 
opisthotonus ; disruption of the connection between the brain 
and the spinal marrow did not stop the tetanic spasms. A 
quantity, corresponding to 2 grams of seed, of the substance 
shaken out by ether, was injected into a chicken weighing 
500 grams ; the voluntary movements soon became slower 
and then ceased entirely ; the animal lay on its side, its head 
drooping, its breathing irregular and not noticeably increased ; 
the animal remained in any position that was given to it and 
was apparently very much intoxicated ; now and then spasmodic 
motions were noticed. Slowly the chicken recovered entirely. 
• •••*• 

Its taste is poignant, a little bitter, biting, and rather 
persistent. As appears from animal experiments it is a strong 
heart poison. This poison like odolline is deposited only 
in the seed-cores of the Cerbera. The slightly bitter bark 
and the tasteless leaves possess no toxic capacities whatsoever. 

Concerning this family a large number of data can be 
found in the literature of Indian plants. As poisonous plant 
and medicinal herb it is mentioned in the earliest dispatches 
concerning Java which were carried over to Europe by the 
Portuguese and the Dutch. In the Philosophical Transactions 
of March, 1666 (p. 417), under the “ Enquiries for East Indies ”, 
the following question is put : “ Whether there be such a 
vegetable in Java called Mangas Bravos that is so poisonous 
that it kills presently and for which no remedy has yet been 
found ? ” Judging by the name, it is our plant to which 
here is referred, although the possibility exists that the Antiaris 
toxicaria Lesch., the ill-famed Upas-tree, is meant, which 
originally was confused with the Cerbera (Horsfield Plant, 
Java, p. 53). This same confusion may also be the reason 
that the perfectly unpoisonous milk-juice of the Cerbera is 
called by Lindley and other authors “ the most poisonous 
of all Apocyneae ”. 

On a similar error is based the widely spread belief, that 
the deadly poison lies in the fat oil from the seeds, of which 
Hasskarl ( 1 , c. p. 24, no. 173) says : “ If this oil is drunk, the 
head is affected and death will be the immediate result ; if 

An Evaluation of Claims 173 

a small quantity is taken, a vehement blood-diarrhoea will 
quickly ensue.” 

This is only in so far true, as part of the poisonous sub- 
stance can come vnth the oil, but, as is obvious from the 
experiment just described, the oil in itself is completely 
innocuous. No more is there any poisonous element in the 
bark and the leaves, which were introduced into the medical 
practice by Waitz {Pract. Waarn., p. 7) and which correspond 
in their effects with senna-leaves, “ without any disagreeable 
or harmful after-effects ” ; Rumphius already called the juice 
squeezed from the fresh bark of C. lactaria an excellent laxative. 
The only poisonous part of the plant are the seed-cores, which, 
by the way, show a rather close resemblance to almonds. Their 
deadly effects have been clearly and repeatedly observed in 
Java and were already known to Rumphius. Horsfield once 
witnessed the workings of a small quantity (a scruple of the 
utmost part) upon a Javanese woman, who had swallowed 
them from curiosity ; she became delirious and could not 
distinguish the persons and objects in her immediate sur- 
roundings ; her power of speech, however, she retained ; she 
remained in this condition for five hours (Filet, De planten 
in den hot. tuin te Weltevreden, p. 64). A poisoning with 
the seeds is also mentioned in the Geneeskunddig tydschrift 
voor Ned. Indie, vol. 7 (1859), p. 158. Furthermore, wide- 
spread rumour has it that in the South-Preanger Cerbera is 
still used for criminal purposes, the truth of which, however, 
the existing state of knowledge does not guarantee. (In the 
beach-dessah’s of Djampang Koelon the only lamp-oil used 
is still always the Minjak Bintaroh.) 

Before this Cerbera has already figured in chemical research. 
In part x, p. 505, of the Geneeskundig tydschrift voor Ned. 
Indie, an analysis (by Altheer) of the milk-juice is described ; 
it was found to contain caoutchouc (i9‘7%), resin (3%) and 
gum (059%), but no toxic principle whatsoever; when 
experimenting on a dog, 32 gr. of milk-juice had no harmful 
effects. Teysmann, in referring to his negative result, remarked 
that the native never considered the milk-juice as poisonous. 
De Vry thought originally that the seeds contained Thevetine, 
but later on he found that Cergerine was different from this 
in that it lacked a colour-reaction with sulphuric acid.” 

Now there is no doubt that Christopher stated that the 
milk-juice, the milky sap of budobudo, was what he had used 

174 The Black Art 

for his believed poisoning tactics mixed with coco-nut juice. 
There could hardly have been any motive for lying and 
yet lying so near to what might have been truth. The milk 
sap does not show up in prepared coco-nut milk or on a pre- 
pared yam, he said, because of its appropriate milky colour. 

To check the remotest possibility of my having confused 
my dried specimens I examined the literature in detail and 
checked the identification of budobudo as Cerbera odollam 
in every detail that I had observed of the tree in New Guinea, 
an observation that had not been casual. There can be no 
doubt whatever of the facts of the identification. 

As a check on Christopher’s truth-telling, the poisonous 
element in the seed cores is stated by Greshoff to be “ very 
hard to dissolve in water, even a i ,000 fold quantity of boiling 
water is not sufficient ”. Further the seed cores are coloured 
and could not be well disguised. 

It is evident that the milky sap of budobudo^ believed 
to be a poison by Christopher is not poisonous. Hence his 
account of how he killed a child with it cannot be accepted. 
In the same way his claimed killing of two men by magical 
spells cannot be accepted. The statement that all three died 
the day after he proceeded against them is obviously a lie of 
prestige. (Even in the case of Hill Man’s sorcery where 
Hill Man met his victim face to face in the bush, and the thing 
was not done from concealment as in Christopher’s two spell 
bindings, the victim, apparently suffering from suggestion, 
had been two weeks indisposed when I encountered him.) 
Doubtless natural deaths occurred in three cases of those 
that Christopher had proceeded against magically beforehand, 
possibly months beforehand. 

Certain poisons are known to everyone. Derris, a vegetable 
poison in the roots of a tall liana, is used publicly for stupefying 
fish. The gall of a globe fish called soki is a poison more 
deadly than tuva. These two poisons are known to everyone. 
But apart from these two there are many simples believed to 
be poisonous that are family secrets, just as spells are. Budobudo, 
told to me by Christopher in the last material quoted, is just 
such a family secret. 

Such secrets are not obtained easily by the white man. 
The native usually gives a facile lie or preserves silence on 
the matter. The literature on the area has no instance of 
such clear truth-telling in it, as Christopher gave to me. 

' The same tree is also called hutobuto in the Phillipines. 

General Attitudes 175 

I think it is clear that he did give me a traditional secret simple 
without reticence or lying. Cerbera odollam, Hamilt., clearly 
is a tree that produces a poison traditionally recognized as 
such in southern Asia by the natives. In Dobu, at least in 
Christopher’s case, knowledge of its properties has not been 
handed down quite faithfully. It is apparently one case of 
the loss of a useful art, the sap being now believed to be a 
poison. From this incident, however, I may demonstrate 
that Christopher probably told me the truth in his other accounts 
of the black art with only the customary lies of prestige. 

After my initiation into the black art as it is practised 
in Dobu, I pin my faith to the kind of sorcery Hill Man used 
on X, and Christopher’s wife’s mother’s brother in company 
with Christopher used on the gardener. In this type of 
sorcery (for the further proof of which see Appendix II), the 
sorcerer fronts his victim, who actually knows for certain that 
trouble has come upon him. I refer to the method by which 
the victim’s internal organs are removed [«c] by the sorcerer 
in person, and in full fleshly person. 

For the rest, witchcraft, sorcery upon body leavings, tabus, 
and the secret poisons are for the most part ineffective 
psychologically. For the most part their use in feuds is most 

In a few cases threats before execution occur. Unwelcome 
conduct may be taken as the equivalent of a specific threat. 
In such cases of known trouble impending both parties must 
live at a very high tension. The victim does not know of 
the sorcerer’s intention unless by threat or threatening be- 
haviour in advance. There is no pattern of anonymous message 
after execution ; complete anonymity is sedulously preserved 
in most cases. There is no belief that the diviner is necessarily 
right and that one must be found out if one is successful. 

If a threat of execution can be averted by payment, such 
payment is usually made, as Aines and Peter paid Luilo about 
double the value of his slaughtered pig. 


General Attitudes 

To sum up, the black art is used not only for collecting 
bad debts and enforcing economic obligation, in vendetta 
to avenge one’s own sickness or one’s kinsman’s death, to 
wipe out any serious insult offered to one, and for the sake 

176 The Black Art 

of “ trying it out ” to see how it works. It is also used 
generally “ to cast down the mighty from their seat There 
is great resentment of any conspicuously successful man in 
Dobu. There is respect for old age and for primogeniture, 
but nothing except anger for any differences in success due 
to ability. 

The black art is used against an over successful gardener, 
since he is believed to have stolen other person’s yams from 
their gardens by magic. The black art is used against 
rivals who interfere with one’s own success in overseas ex- 
change, where armshells are exchanged for necklaces ; a long 
time elapses between gift and counter gift, giving a rival a 
chance to cut in. Such cutting in is not rare as we shall see 
later. There is real competition here since the most prized 
valuables are not numerous enough for every one to handle 
them. Even a man who has too many domestic pigs is in 
danger — his greater wealth is regarded as an afiFront. 

The desirable man in Dobu is he who has been more 
successful than his fellows in gardening, overseas exchange 
of valuables, in the pigs he has and even more importantly 
in the number of women he has seduced (this last is of course 
a case of real competition). It is interesting to note how our 
distinction between real competition where one man’s gain 
is another’s loss, and rivalry where all may gain, but not at 
one another’s expense, is not made in Dobu. All matters 
of economics fall under the real competition concept. But 
with all this success the desirable man must be sound in body 
and in health. In other words the desirable man is he who 
has sought and gained the dangerous values unhurt by the 
black art of his rivals, who have used their sorcery against 
his success. He is the tai bobo'ana, the desirable man. 

A man who is not conspicuously successful, but who has 
a sound body is neither bobo'ana nor tokumali. And in the 
rare cases where a deformed person remains socially success- 
ful Dobuans hesitate to use the term tokumali, which applies 
to nearly all hurt persons. 

By means of a theory which makes the most prized social 
values so dangerous it is possible to explain a great many 
cases of disease and death. We have here a good blanket 
explanation for the misfortunes of men. 

The diseased or deformed man in Dobu normally falls 
back in the scale. He is not a success with women, or with 
overseas exchanges ; whether from infirmity or from fear 

General Attitudes 177 

of further disaster or from both, his economic status is 
normally low. 

The diviner does not use this diagnosis of disease or 
deformity or death in his divining, probably because there is 
no just reason why a too rich man should give away some 
of his wealth to the one particular rival only whom the diviner 
might select as causing illness. This diagnosis is popular, 
not professional. 

The concepts good and bad in the purely moral sense 
do not exist in Dobu. If it were said : “ He did not mourn 
his wife, he is a tai tokumali," what would this mean ? For 
a cripple, a person with tertiary yaws, with gangosa or what 
not tokumali is practically always used, irrespective of whether 
that person is now conforming to the Dobuan code of what 
is safe conduct or not. Some serious departure from pleasing 
others in the past life of the cripple is assumed — hence his 
physical trouble. The exact departure can almost always 
be named. So if a man who did not mourn his wife were 
called tokumali there would be implicit in the term, some 
anticipation of proceedings against him that might be expected 
to damage his health. 

In point of fact I have never heard that sorcery proceedings 
are actually taken against the non-conformist widower by 
his late wife’s relatives. They are incensed and taunt him 
if they meet him. They remark on him disparagingly to 
everyone. He gets a bad name. But that is all. Con- 
sonantly it is never said “he did not mourn his wife ; he is 
a tai tokumali ”. Tokumali is too strong a term here. 

I may remark that the translator of the Bible into Dobuan, 
the Rev. W. E. Bromilow, D.D., has made bobo'ana and 
tokumali the equivalents of moral good and bad. There is 
a real difficulty here, as the Dobuan categories are not closely 
related to our own. Such translation is linguistically un- 
sound, but there is nothing else that could have been done 
than to try to change the meaning of the terms. This is not 
impossible provided that the true native use of the terms is 
specifically guarded against. The fact that the tokumali do 
not get into the Dobuan spirit land adds a fine touch of trouble 
after death as well as trouble during mortality. But the 
attitude towards the deformed and the diseased in Dobu is 
hardly Christian. 

I have a further discussion of as yet unstressed facts of 
the black art in appendices. 


The Spirits of the Dead 

I have discussed the black art in Dobu before the discussion 
of economic exchanges owing to a profound colouring of 
the latter by the former. It may not seem clear why I should 
also interpose a chapter on beliefs regarding the spirits of the 
dead in this place. The reason is one that is particularly 
apropos in any treatment of a Melanesian culture. In 
Melanesia generally if misfortune is not attributed to the 
black art it is attributed to the spirits of the dead. It is reason- 
able therefore to turn from the black art to its possible 

We have seen that a few spirits of the first ancestors of 
man are conceived as the familiars who do the magician’s 
bidding. The existence of these familiars is an assumption 
of spiritual immortality in itself. Magic in Dobu pre-supposes 
the doctrine of immortality, usually one of the basic doctrines 
of religion. 

We have seen that witchcraft in Dobu is conceived as 
the witch woman sending forth her spirit with murderous 
intent during her sleep ; and that nightmare is usually inter- 
preted as a witchcraft episode in which the spirit of the sleeper 
who has the nightmare has been in great danger from hostile 
spirits, the spirits of all concerned having gone forth from their 
human habitations of skin and bone. 

We have seen again that the diviner in diagnosing a case 
of illness may say that the sea witches, gelaboi, have come 
to shore by canoe and caused it ; and that these sea witches, 
unlike most witch spirits, have no skin and bone residence 
to enter at will. This difference between gelaboi and land 
witches is not firmly insisted upon by the Dobuans, as it might 
be, however. They do not really grasp and welcome the 
gelaboi as purely spiritual agents. When the diviner gives 
a prognosis of sea witch caused illness, I know that some 
think he is lying to put them off the scent. The question 
of whether the gelaboi are the spirits of the dead does not 
occur naturally to the Dobuan. He will say that these sea 


The Spirits of the Dead 179 

witches are spirits of some of the dead, a minority that has 
found no rest in the spirit home. Not that the existence of 
the gelaboi is a lie. But he is not comfortable in the idea 
that the dead can do any damage. Damage is done so pre- 
ponderantly by the living, that this latter conception will 
not tolerate a rival conception easily. 

In one Dobuan district there is a belief that the spirit of 
a person who has died with a swollen stomach is dangerous. 
It seeks to enter the body of another person, to cause him 
to die with a swollen stomach also. Infection with such 
a disease is due in the first place to the person going to a place 
where some time before he had killed a man or woman. Every- 
where where Dobuan is spoken it is believed that if the killer 
returns to the place of the killed the blood of the killed will 
enter his body and swell it until he dies ; and death with a 
swollen body is interpreted as having been caused so. But 
only amongst the Dobuans of one particular district is it believed 
that the spirit of a person so dying will enter the bodies of others 
still living and cause them to die so also. 

In this Dobuan district, when an individual lies seriously 
ill with swollen stonuch, he is tied hand and foot before he 
is dead. “ He has breathing, his mouth works in speech, 
crying for compassion, shrieking, shouting. He is as one 
alive ; but he is dead. Only the blood in him, the blood of 
one he slew that has entered him, breathes, moves his mouth 
in speech. You think it is a man breathing, speaking. It 
is not. It is blood. He is tied hand and foot. He is taken 
to a cave in the cliffs, a cave opening on the sea with a small 
inland aperture. He is put through the aperture, and a stone 
is rolled over it. There he is left unburied, crying and calling 
in vain, a dead man though in semblance alive.” A magician 
makes fast the stone rolled over the aperture with magic to 
lay the spirit. Then the magician and an assistant conceal 
themselves close by. Later the magician sees the spirit leave 
the body and emerge from the cave by the stone-sealed aperture. 
As it emerges he rushes to the aperture and holds a cooking 
pot perforated with a small trap hole in its bottom upside 
down over the spirit. The spirit enters the opening of the 
cooking pot and emerges from the small trap hole in its bottom 
held close to him by the magician. As it emerges so the 
magician cuts the spirit. So it cannot enter others and kill 
them in like manner. So the spirit of the blood of the killed 
is laid. 

i8o The Spirits of the Dead 

Nevertheless the fear of such a spirit is considerable. Such 
a spirit is obliged to enter and infect its next-of-kin only, the 
surviving members of its own susu. Accordingly, if shortly 
after such a death, someone not related to the dead falls ill, 
it is customary to say to the spirit of him who died in this 
manner : “ Am I your sister or your brother ? What relative 
of yours am I ? Go away, enter your own relative. You 
are making a mistake in coming to this house.” But such 
a spirit, though it properly infects and enters one of its sitsu 
kin, is also believed to enter and infect anyone who owed 
the dead a debt and had not paid it by the time of the creditor 
dying. This belief applies to death by blood, by swollen 
stomach only. In the other Dobuan districts the belief of 
the district that alone practises premature exposure has pene- 
trated somewhat. It has caused a current saying : “ Spirits 
of the dead are filth ; they hurt men and women.” In other 
Dobuan districts, those dying of a swollen stomach are allowed 
to die. But then they are buried in great haste with nothing 
of the usual interval for mourning. Generally speaking 
other districts have no fear of the spirits of the dead. Such 
spirits are regarded as powerless against the living. One kind 
of death only causes a bad spirit which is felt as being dangerous 
in the extreme in but one district. 

The Dobuans of this same district have a custom of carrying 
on the vendetta in more spiritual terms, also in cases of ordinary 
death. They keep the corpse in a specially built hut for 
over a week. A cooking pot is put over the head of the corpse, 
and the brothers and sisters of the dead sleep by the corpse, 
one or two with an arm twined about the pot. “ The air 
becomes foul with decomposing corpse ; they are not allowed 
to spit. If one spat the hand of brother would turn against 
brother to slay him.” The spirit of the sorcerer or the witch 
who was responsible for the killing is expected to come back 
to dance over its killed or to eat of the corpse. A magical 
trap is laid to catch this spirit and so to kill the skin and bone 
habitation of this spirit. 

Every person is believed to have a bodily and a ghostly 
self. This ghostly self survives after the body is rotted in 
the grave and the skull alone retained of it in the house of 
the next-of-kin. It is the reflection seen in a pool — the only 
mirror before the white man came — and in a mirror. It is 
related to the shadow in a way that the native refuses to define 
clearly. Sometimes he says that the shadow goes to Bwebweso, 

The Spirits of the Dead i8i 

the Mountain of the Spirits in Normanby Island, sometimes 
he says not, thinking of the shadow’s difference from the 
spirit. On the whole, however, the shadow is a form the 
spirit may take ; and a native would sometimes comment 
in a tone that left no doubt as to its spiritual quality on my 
great shadow cast on my mosquito net by my Tilley lamp 
as I sat at night at my table writing. Again, a native takes 
great care to keep his shadow clear of an object upon which 
he is placing an evil incantation. The spirit is reflection and 
shadow ; but more importantly and more decisively it is the 
shapes that are seen in dreams. In sleep the spirit goes forth ; 
the spirits of witches and sorcerers go on their evil errands, 
the spirits of the sleeper sometimes go to Bwebweso, the Hill 
of the Dead, and there hold conversation with the dead. There 
are magicians, tokenobeku, who have power over their spirits 
to send them forth thus. Not only witchcraft is carried on 
by women who have incantations that charge their spirits 
with death-dealing errands, and tokenobeku possess incantations 
that send their spirits to Bwebweso to meet the dead, but lovers 
also send their spirits forth to play upon the spirit of the loved 
one ; and persons wake up shrieking and howling from night- 
mare cast in witchcraft terms. 

A sleeper’s spirit that visits Bwebweso must not eat of the 
Dokanikani banana there, or it will never return to the home 
of the living. Dokanikani was an evil ogre of early times ; 
the banana named after her is quite truly an inferior banana 
as I discovered for myself. Sometimes a sleeper will find 
betel nut in the hut in the morning unaccounted for — his 
spirit has brought it from Bwebweso (I understand that such 
strokes of good fortune are rare). 

If a corpse becomes infested with lice the spirit has taken 
a wrong turning on the track to Mt. Bwebweso and gone to 
Koiakutu, the Hill of Lice, in error. 

For several nights after a death cooked yams are left in 
the hut. In the morning a mark is detected on them — “ yes 
the spirit has eaten of them.” So for several nights and 
several mornings ; then no mark is seen one morning — “ he 
has left us for Bwebweso.” The spirit does not gain ad- 
mittance among the dead till the corpse is “ cooked ”, i.e. 
a little decayed ; for the spirits would refuse to believe that 
too fresh a spirit came from a true corpse. In this way thought 

^ There are jumping-off places where the spirits leave the land for the sea 
on the Bwebweso facing extreme points of ea^ Dobuan island. 

i82 The Spirits of the Dead 

of body and spirit is closely linked. A similar reaction of 
body upon spirit exists in the belief that the spirit from a 
disease-scarred body is ugly in appearance and does not gain 
admittance to Bwebweso. Such spirits exist as monstrous 
fish bodies with human heads in a swamp at the foot of Mt. 
Bwebweso. The spirits of those slain in war again do not 
go to Bwebweso, but to their own spirit land. The following 
legend recounts their fate. 


A woman goes fishing. She brings the catch to the village 
but gives none to the old woman, her elder sister. Again 
next day she goes fishing. She brings the catch to the village. 
She gives none to her elder sister. With her husband alone 
she eats. So over many days they do likewise. 

The husband sets sail for Wata of the Amphletts. The 
old woman rises and looks out to sea. She charms a great 
gale from the south-west. The man tries to paddle back 
to land. The gale sweeps him back. Again he tries to paddle 
inshore. The gale sweeps him back. It gathers in force 
and sweeps him out to the deep sea. Three days and nights 
the gale rages, three days and nights his canoe drifts. The 
fourth day the gale lifts. The man rises and finds land under 
his bows. He goes ashore. It is the land of the spirits of 
the dead who were killed and roasted in the earth oven. His 
brother and sister with their spirit spouses greet him. 

“ How come you here ? ” 

“ My sister-in-law caused me to drift here. I refused 
her food.” 

The sun begins its afternoon descent. It is half way 
descended. The women blow up the fires and prepare food. 
The men build a great house. Quickly it is built by many 
men. Men and women all enter. Two men remain outside. 
They kindle torches of coco -nut leaf stems. One at each end 
of the house they set fire to it, and pass round the side setting 
it on fire till they meet in the middle. They enter the house 
and close the door. The house bums fiercely. Inside the 
men and women chatter animatedly. They ascend to the 
clouds in smoke. 

Next morning down they come. They say to him : 

Roast your bananas. We go down to the gardens.” 
At mid-day they come back. Again the sun half descended. 

The Spirits of the Dead 183 

the women blow up the fires and cook food. Again the men 
build a great house. Again men and women enter it and two 
men set fire to it. Again they sleep in the heavens. Next 
morning down they come. 

He says : “ Where leads this path ? ” 

“ It is the path to the People of the Closed up Mouths.” 

He goes. He comes to their village. They are at their 
morning meal. They pour it down holes in the top of the 
head, each man and woman. Their mouths do not open. 
They are closed up. In the evening they prepare taro and 
coco-nut. He goes. He kills a kusikusinetara snake. He rolls 
it up, wraps it up. They are seated around the cooking pot. 
They take up the taro. They drop it down through their 
heads. He whips out the snake in their faces. O ! Ya ! 
Their mouths slit open. They tremble. They howl at it. 
They remain. He asks of them : 

“ Where leads this path ? ” 

“ It comes out at the village of Those-who-will-do-it- 

He sets out and reaches their village. They are gardening. 
They cook food. Heavy rains come on. They have no 
houses. They say : “ We will build houses to-morrow.” 
Each man lies down to sleep. His wife lies down on top of 
him. The children pack up on top of her. The youngest 
child on top takes the rain. It dawns. They say : “ We will 
build houses to-morrow.” In the evening rain comes on. 
Each man lies down to sleep. Each woman on the man’s 
back, the children on her back. 

Again it dawns. They say : “ We will build houses to- 

He says : “ Where leads this path ? ” 

“ It leads to the village of the Gardeners.” 

He arrives at dawn. They wash. They say to him : “ We 
go, we sleep with the women. The spirits of sorcerers and 
witches roam about.” (An inversion of the actual belief that 
such spirits go abroad by night.) 

It falls dark. They rise. They sharpen their axes. They 
go to the gardens. They fell trees. He cuts himself. They 
do not cut themselves. Midnight. The women cook. The 
men go fishing with nets. In the early dawn they return. 
They wash. They lie with the women saying : “ It is sunrise — 
the spirits of sorcerers roam abroad.” They sleep. The 
man marries, and sleeps with his wife. 

184 The Spirits of the Dead 

Night falls. They rise up. They go to the gardens. 
He does nothing but cut himself about the hands. Midnight, 
they cook food. The men go to sea, fishing. Dawn comes. 
They wash. They go to lie with the women, to sleep. 

He takes his wife with him to the garden. He fells trees. 
His wife sleeps. The sun rises, climbs. They come out 
searching for them with torches lit. They say : “ The spirits 
of sorcerers and witches might have killed you.” They 
take man and wife home with them. 

They rise at nightfall. They go to the gardens. He 
remains at home and sleeps. At dawn they come to their 
houses to sleep. 

He asks of them : 

“ Where leads this path ? ” 

” To the People of the Sewed-on Wings.” 

He finds their village. They go to the forest edge of the 
village clearing. They spread their wings and fly. He 
follows on foot. There is no track to be found. He pushes 
through the jungle slowly. He arrives at their gardens. Their 
work is done. They spread their wings and fly home. He 
follows toilsomely through the jungle. His stomach is muddy 
(i.e. he is angry). 

In the houses they blow up the fires. They eat. They 
fly up and hang to the roof poles to sleep. The women call : 
“ Come up and lie with us.” “ How if I fall He says : 
“ So that is their fashion.” 

Next morning : 

“ Where leads this path ? ” 

‘‘ To the village of the Earth Piercing Buttocks.” He 
arrives. They say to him ; “ Let us go and garden.” Their 
elongated buttocks stick into the ground. 

He flees along the path. 

He come to the village of the Weave-weave fish nets. The 
sun is low. Men, women, and children are at work weaving 
fish nets. They prepare to sleep. They grip the nets in 
their toes and weave in their sleep. All next day they weave. 
They prepare to sleep. They grip the nets in their toes, 
sleep and weave. 

Next morning ; 

“ Where leads this path ? ” 

“ To the Adorners of Armshells.” 

All day they ornament armshells. Next day all day they 
ornament armshells. Next day again. He became fatigued. 

The Spirits of the Dead 185 

“ Where leads this path ? ” 

“To Those who Fell Canoes.” 

Men, women, and small children fell trees for canoes. There 
he marries. His wife bears a male child. They say : “ Let 
us take the new canoe on its trial run.” 

Dried up banana leaves they pluck. 

They pluck the body hairs from pigs, from dogs. They 
charm a shell trumpet. They close up the charm inside it. 
They paddle along the shore. They open the shell trumpet 
and blow on it. 

Kwe ! Kwe ! Kwe ! (the pigs’ hairs are pigs grunting), 

Bwau ! Bwau ! Bwau ! (the dogs’ hairs are dogs barking). 

The dried banana leaf is heaps of ripe bananas. 

The man fells his canoe, sews his sail, plaits his ropes, 
shapes his gaff. 

“ When do you sail ? ” 

“ The day after to-morrow.” 

“ With your child ? ” 

” Alone. Soon I return.” 

His wife’s brother brings dried banana leaves, dried coco-nut 
leaves, yam leaves. They pluck pigs’ hairs and bind the 
canoe parts together with them. A pig’s jaw bones they bind 
on the outrigger boom sticks. 

They charm the shell trumpet, set the sand on the out- 
rigger for the firesticks. He charms ginger, wraps it up, 
gives it to his sister’s husband. He instructs him to chew 
the ginger at sea and spit it towards the land of the spirits 
of the killed and roasted in the earth oven. At sea he turns 
to face the spirit land. He spits the ginger towards it. The 
spirit land sinks below the horizon. His mother is sweeping. 
The children are playing. One child : 

“ Mother, a war canoe comes quickly from their country.” 

It is their mother’s year of matabora (prohibition on going 
to the seashore during mourning). 

The brother approaches Silasila (a village of Bwaioa). 
The mother remains. The rest go to the shore. The canoe 
drives on to the beach under sail. He blows the shell trumpet. 

Pigs — Kwe ! Kwe ! Kwe ! 

Dogs — Bwau ! Bwau ! Bwau ! 

Mothers, brothers, sisters, fathers’ sisters, mothers’ brothers’ 
wives, mothers’ brothers, fathers’ sisters’ husbands, cross- 
cousins, they wail. They carry pigs and dogs. They kill them 
and eat the keatoeaxvasina (food killed on return of absentee). 

i86 The Spirits of the Dead 

This legend was heard by the whole company solemnly — 
one laugh when the shut mouths burst open at the snake. At 
its close everyone was silent. Then Kopu : “ Had we the 
charm we could turn all the Trobrianders into the pigs 
and dogs.” 

Togo (very solemnly and quickly) : 

“ But indeed no — we could take the skulls of the dead — 
blow on the trumpet and our dead would be restored to us.” 

When the body is interred betel nut is closed in its hand. 
This is to be given to the gate-keeper of Bwebweso, Sine- 
bomatu, who will then let the spirits pass. The legend of the 
origin of death runs : — 

Sinebomatu, the woman of the north-east wind, with 
her granddaughter, they go to bathe. The grandmother 
goes seawards down a stream. Her skin she peels off. She 
throws it away. She comes inland her granddaughter to her. 
Her granddaughter wails, she says : “ My grandmother an 
aged woman, you a different woman.” She says : “ No, I 
enough your grandmother.” 

” You lie. You another woman. My grandmother an 
aged woman.” She says : ” You wail. I return, my skin 
I bring.” 

Her skin she brought it. Like a shirt she donned it again. 
She returns. She says : ” You wailed. My skin I brought. 
When you grow old you will die. If wailing you had set 
aside and we had gone village-wards when you grow old you 
had stripped your wrinkled skin.” 

Snake, monitor lizard, crab, lobster a part of her skin 
they ate. They strip their old skins, live for ever ; we enough 
we die. 

I suggested to the owner of this legend that it was filched 
from the Trobriands. He told me it came from his mother’s 
mother, and from her mother before her. The Trobrianders 
were thieves to possess it, and liars to claim it as their own. 
Later I found it all over Fergusson claimed as its own by each 
tribe, one legend common in sets of legends that were as various 
as the languages (of which there are five or^six). The Dobuan 
version is peculiar in owning Sinebomatu, the Woman of 
the North-east Wind. 

At the portals of Bwebweso Sinebomatu by day, and 
Kekewage by night guard a huge shrub of the fragrant kemwata 
or ane (Kekewage is the husband). They scrutinize new 
arriving spirits, get their betel nut from them and pass them 

The Spirits of the Dead 187 

on if they fulfil the requirements of not being diseased or 
too “ fresh As each new arrival is passed, from a palm 
overhead falls a coco-nut. A different variety of nut falls 
according to the totem of the entrant to the spirit world ; 
there is a well-known list of such varieties and their totem 
allocation for the purpose. 

Sinebomatu, Woman of the North-east Wind and 
Kekewage, her husband and fellow janitor of the portals, 
adopt children who have died before their parents pending 
a parent’s death — “ who would care for them in Bwebweso ? ” 

With the exceptions noted the Dobuans believe that the 
spirits stay quietly in their places for ever, not troubling mortal 
men. The life of the spirits is conceived as thin and shadowy 
— in no sense does it offer any single advantage over this 
earthly life. It is as in Euripides : 

“ If any earthly place there be 
Dearer to life than mortality 
The land of the dark hath hold thereof 
And mist is under and mist is above 
And we float on legends for ever.” * 

That is as true to a Dobuan savage as it was to Euripides. 
It is expressed in the dance song of the dance re-appearing, 
the first dance after mourning is over : 

“ I go hillwards to Bwebweso 
By Dokwabu’s white pandanus flower 
I go hillwards to Bwebweso. 

The white, white pandanus flower. 

From the palm I have climbed 
1 look out upon the path behind me, 

I mourn for Dobu. 

So the feelings of the spirit of the dead are bodied forth 
in the dance when the village kin of the dead dance bearing 
the skull of the dead at the feast dugumalala. So the kin in 
sympathy escort the spirit of the dead to its home in Bwebweso. 
The word bwebweso itself means extinguished. A fire or 
a lantern goes out, i kweu or i bweso. In dance or in ritual, 
thought of the spirit enters in, but without fear, without un- 
kindness as in the Fergusson Island neighbours of Dobu. 
Occasional isolated teachings are handed down, such as one 
that a woman with old sunken breasts in Bwebweso is really 
a maiden, while a firm, young breasted woman is an old, decayed 
woman. One should be careful to woo the former rather 
than the latter — in Bwebweso. The life of the spirit after 

' In Professor Gilbert Murray’s rendering. 

i88 The Spirits of the Dead 

death is so pictured as a Rip Van Winkle-like adventure. 

Mt. Bwebweso is an extinct volcano, but whether the Dobuans 
call it extinguished with special reference to it as a land form, or as 
a home of the dead who died by diseases we do not know. The 
home of the dead who were killed in action described in the legend 
Tokebanibani told above (pp. 182-186) has as its guardians la- 
boaine and his consort Sinekili, Woman Cleaner. That laboaine 
is the same as the Yabwayna mentioned as the god of wars by 
Malinowski in his introduction (p. xvi). He is also the same as 
the Yabowaine invoked in a charm of the agricultural ritual men- 
tioned on p. III. The disease with the symptom of a swollen 
stomach mentioned on p. 179 is probably shistosomiasis, marked in 
more discriminating terms by spleenomegaly, a greatly enlarged 
liver and a parasitic protozoan infection in the liver cells and in 
the portal veinous system. The Dobuans thought that it was 
caused by one of the iaboaineao, the ghosts of those killed in action, 
and in particular by a ghost of a former enemy who introduced a 
double of his blood into food accepted in his village from his 
survivors. Malinowski terms laboaine an alleged high god, but 
it has not been claimed that he was believed to be a supreme god. 
As may be noticed from the legend of the home of laboaine, 
Woman Cleaner and the iaboaineao, they were believed to go up 
into the clouds and down to earth. Their home was not believed 
to be in any landmark. 




Marital Exchanges 

Marriage in Dobu is inaugurated and maintained by a 
number of gift exchanges. Betel nut is first sent by the pro- 
spective groom or by his parents to the girl’s parents. If 
this gift is accepted it is an indication of acceptance of the 
proposed marriage. If it is rejected the marriage is off. 

The groom and his kin hunt oppossum (Cuscus) towards 
harvest time. Oppossum and yams are given as gifts to the 
bride’s relatives. These return the gift with yams only. 

The groom and his kin also go forth on the kula. Regard- 
less of future impediment to their kula, they must accumulate 
armshells, many of them, and a spondylus shell necklace 
or two to give as a present to the bride’s relatives as the kwesi, 
or bride price. The bride’s relatives need not return the 
equivalent of these gifts in any haste. In fact the return is 
often years delayed, the overseas partners of the groom and 
his kin having their return equally delayed. A prospective 
groom does not inform his kula partner of his need of kula 
valuables for internal exchanges, or he would be refused them. 

While the marriage is in being a series of repeated gift 
exchanges take place between the two villages party to the 

A killed pig or a portion of it may go from the mother’s 
brother of one spouse to the mother’s brother of the other. 
It is carried by a woman of the village that gives it and set 
down in the other village. There the recipient cuts it up and 
distributes it to the entire village. This gift is variously 
termed sebuwana, katuesiki, and niueta. If it is given by the 
husband’s mother’s brother the entire village of the wife 
eat of it with the exception of the wife herself. The owners 
of the village and Those-resulting-from-marriage all partake 
of it without distinction of clan ; only if the man in whose 
name and by whose village kinsman it is given is resident 
at the time in his wife’s village, he must abstain with his wife, 


190 Economics 

as must also any other village kinsman of his married into 
the same village. The same holds true reversed when later 
the gift is repaid ; i.e. the entire village of the husband eat 
together with all Those-resulting-from-marriage not of the 
wife’s village, with the exception of the husband himself 
among the former class, and his wife, if she is resident in her 
husband’s village, among the latter class. The children from 
the marriage in whose name the gift is exchanged need not 
abstain as must their parents. 

A banana and fish gift is termed ekekwaro. The village 
of the spouse that are giving the gift go to sea and net fish. 
They cut the finest bananas, called Ponake, and cook fish 
and bananas together into a dish called ekwasi. The village 
receiving the gift net a smaller quantity of fish, cut an inferior 
banana called Bworabzoora and cook a smaller ekwasi. The 
ekwasi are then exchanged. It is usually an all day affair 
and it usually takes place by the shore, both villages resorting 
thither. As in the case of pig gift, husband and wife must 
abstain from eating of the gifts exchanged in their name. In 
cooking and eating the villages keep well apart. When the 
cooked food is exchanged each village carries its own food 
to its own place. Later on the sides will be reversed in a 
return match, the other village cooking the larger ekwasi. 

Gifts of sago and taro are termed bwanakupwa. A large 
supply of food is taken by the donors to the village of the 
recipients. The recipients keep to one end of the village 
and cook a smaller quantity of food there. The donors, 
keeping to the other end of the village, cook their large supply. 
The food is interchanged and the donors return to eat the 
gift given them in their own village, carrying it there. The 
white observer is inclined to marvel how the recipients manage 
to eat the quantity given them— it is not left to go bad. As 
before, husband and wife must abstain from touching the 
food exchange made in the name of their marriage. Later, 
the sides are reversed in a return match. 

Ekekwaro and bwanakupwa differ from pig gift in that 
more ceremony is involved. They occupy the whole day. 
The men cook, not the women, as in everyday cooking. The 
alignment is strictly between the owners of the two villages 
concerned. Those-resulting-from-marriage go elsewhere about 
their own business. When they return to their spouses in 
the evening, however, they usually find plenty of food left 
unconsumed. This they eat. 

Marital Exchanges 191 

The custom by which man and wife are debarred from 
contributing to or eating of ceremonial gifts made to cement 
their marriage, makes for village communal authority. No one 
bears his or her own obligations. Marriage ceases to be a 
private matter. 

At any one of the ceremonial exchanges husbands and 
wives are apart. Some are Those-resulting-from-marriage and 
have no business at the exchange. Some, including the pair 
in whose name the exchange is being made, belong to the 
two villages concerned. Such pairs split up and ignore each 
other all day. The husband is with his sister, brother, sister’s 
children, and the other susu of his village ; the wife is with 
her brother, sister, sister’s children, and the other susu of her 
village. These two parties engaged in exchange sit or stand 
at extreme ends of the village, preparing and cooking, a wide 
space in between them. If they look at the other party at all 
by custom they glare with hostility. For the most part they 
appear with a studied unconcern not to notice that any other 
party than their own is in the same village. 

They only notice each other when the food, finally cooked, 
is exchanged. Then, this done, they immediately separate, 
the visitors carrying their food home. There they may eat. 

The importance of the economic system is paramount, 
the gifts are of great valuables, and the enlisting of the economic 
system to split the marriage bond, cleaving it asunder by 
a cross-cutting village susu wedge, is one expression of a fact 
that comes up again whenever a village elder is disciplining 
a younger ward, reminding him or her of the food obligations 
fulfilled by the kindred to keep the marriage in being and 
threatening to drop the obligations in the event of further 
offence being given, so compelling the kin of the spouse into 
taking measures for divorce or sorcery for non-fulfilment of 
food obligations. It is an effective system of control. 

Only in rare and extreme cases is a person reminded by 
his or her kin as to the identity of those who fulfill the economic 
arrangements of the marriage. From elder to younger it is 
done when a head-man brings an offender to book. From 
equal to equal it is an insult that must be swallowed in silence 
and with respect ; it is never made gratuitiously, and it is never 
received without great mortification. 

In this manner the component village susu bear one another’s 
marriage obligations, and if they think a marriage for which 
they pay does not repay them fairly, they set about sorcery 

192 Economics 

or witchcraft as we have already seen, or else wait for a chance 
of a marital quarrel over suspected adultery to give them 
opportunity to send the member of the offending village 
packing out of their village. Resource to the black art is the 
more direct course. 

To revert from discussion of the functioning of the economic 
forms to the forms themselves, there are at yam harvest small 
and large exchanges of uncooked yams. A child-in-Iaw 
usually takes a few baskets of yams to the mother-in-law, 
silasila lawa. 

The greater exchange, pwatukwara, is between entire 
villages connected by intermarriage of their members, on 
behalf of each and every individual member. The true parents- 
in-law of any single marriage give about half of the gift and 
receive about half if it in due order of gift and counter-gift. 
The other half is contributed and received over a village range 
(owners of the village only). The gift is made by the one side 
one year and repaid by the other the next. The givers are 
those who are losing the company of the couple concerned 
for the ensuing year, the recipients those in the village that 
receives them that year. 

The givers take the yams to the village of the recipients and 
set it up there on display in large wooden hoppers. The 
mother-in-law of the incoming resultant-from-marriage takes 
down the yams after this display, and distnbutes the half 
which she does not retain to the other owners of the village. 
As she hands each owner a basket of gift yams the recipient 
thanks her politely with the traditional and obligatory formula, 
if you kill me by witchcraft, how shall I repay you this gift.” 

There are also irregular exchanges between father-in-law 
and son-in-law. One may catch a big fish and give it to the 
other. Later the former recipient will cook a banana and taro 
mash with his own hands and redeem the debt. The only 
indication of this being ceremonial is the sight of a man or two 
sitting beneath another’s house while their host prepares 
especially fine food and cooks it. A male cook is always an 
indication of ceremony in Dobu, even although in the inter- 
island hula exchanges the cooks are never male. 

After the^ death of his wife a man is expected to keep up 
exchanges with her relatives. As the widower has often been 
hasty to remarry, he has often a double exchange to maintain. 
This may press hard on his resources. Even although the 
exchange balances in the long run there may be a serious deficit 

Death and Mourning Exchanges 193 

at any moment, and the exchanges demanded by a dead wife’s 
relatives are frequently productive of such bitterness and 
coolnesses as the diviner of the black art and of socially difficult 
situations may uncover. 

Success in wabuwabu is a matter for pride with many 
Dobuans. In connection with marriage the term means to 
initiate a marriage with deliberate intention not to continue it, 
but to break it off at a point w'hen the marriage exchanges set 
heavily in one’s favour ; then to risk the black art of the angry 
unrepaid creditors. A life-long avoidance with mutual fear is 
then set up between the near kin of the parties to the marriage 
so dissolved in wabuivabu. Since it is believed that the black 
art is dangerous only from possible associates, and since persons 
of one locality do not trespass in another locality, marriage 
without the locality is rare. It is known that there is no good 
deterrent to the ever possible wabuwabu, possible enough despite 
deterrent, within the locality. 

On the other hand, relieving the picture of a too grim 
economic situation marriage exchanges sometimes continue 
long after the deaths of the married pair. A man’s sister’s son 
will continue to exchange with his mother’s brother’s wife’s son, 
and the sisters’ sons of these men with each other again. A man 
in taking his mother’s brother’s name, relationship place and 
inheritance, will continue the marriage exchanges of his mother’s 
brother towards the heirs of the latter’s deceased wife. The 
exchanges become individual, between the two men directly 
concerned only. Their existence is an interesting comment on 
the kula exchange of armshells and necklaces. Both exchanges 
are made for the love of exchange primarily. 


Death and Mouening Exchanges 

Death and mourning initiate a long cycle of economic 
exchanges and feasts. The corpse of an adult is buried by the 
sister’s children, a child’s corpse by the mother’s brothers. 

I saw a child buried in my village, in Tewara, half a chain 
to the side of my hut. One of the mother’s village sisters buried 
it with the assistance of the mother’s brother. The women of 
the village wailed throughout the proceedings. The father sat 
far apart not looking on the scene. The corpse was laid below 
ground on its back in the extended position on a mat. Betel 

194 Economics 

nut was put into its hand and the hand curled about it. After 
the burial, about half a day after death, the sextons ^ were given 
cooked yams by the mother of the dead, and an armshell each. 
The mother alone went into regular mourning, putting on the 
neck rope, mwagura, blackening her body, and abstaining from 
good food. The payment of yams to the sextons is called 
bwobwore, and of armshells, kunututu. 

In the event of the death of a married person the widow 
or widower goes into mourning in the village of the dead, not 
in own village. The survivor is debarred from looking upon the 
interment. The survivor’s family pay the kunututu to the 
grave-diggers, who are more likely to be the sister’s sons than 
the mother’s brothers of the dead. The village of the survivor 
pay the bwobwore gift to the sister’s sons of the dead. 

It was in a case of inability to make the kunututu payment 
for burial, that an event discussed in the social organization 
occurred. The dead husband came from another island. 
His widow’s kin could not pay an armshell to his kin ; so 
instead of the armshell the widow parted with her female child 
who went with her dead father’s sister to her far away place, 
there to stay until she bore a child to replace her father ; that 
done she had choice of leaving her child and rejoining her 
mother, or staying with her child and not staying in her mother’s 
place again. I saw the child who was given instead of kunututu, 
now a full-grown woman, in Sanaroa. Her mother and mother’s 
mother’s brother I knew well in my own village in Tewara. 
She stood apart from the groups around not speaking to any- 
one, but overhearing a man tell me who and what she was — a 
lonely figure in a strange place and in a strange situation for this 
culture of strong matrilineal descent ; where ordinarily no one 
ever enters the village of dead father, but stays ceremonially 
on its fringe and lets fall the head — hence it is called the village 
of bowing the head, asa kopuana. She looked as a Russian 
political convict in exile in Siberia might look. 

The bwobwore gift is not confined to the sexton’s payment 
just after they have buried the dead and washed themselves 
in the sea. Many times through the year after death if the 
dead was a man his children cook a banana and taro mash with 
a fish or two thrust into it and take it to the sister’s children 
of the dead. These gifts, without repayment, are called 
bwobwore also. They are regarded as the children’s payment 

I use tHe term sexton to indicste grave-diggers who 
ceremonially, so stripped of much of its English meaning. 

perform their duties 

Death and Mourning Exchanges 195 

for their father “ did he not hold us in his arm ? ” the strangers- 
resulting-from-marriage paying the kin for a member of that 
kin group having done well by them. The point of the marriage 
grouping’s subservience to the susu group is reinforced. 

The house of the dead is left standing for the year of death. 
The widow digs the yams of the dead’s garden. His sister’s 
children alone may enter the house of the dead — there they 
store the yams so harvested. Later, the sister’s children inherit 
these yams when after harvest the house of the dead is torn 
down and burned. 

At the beginning of mourning the kin of the surviving spouse 
not only pay the sextons with a small bioobwore of cooked yams ; 
they also bring a large gift of uncooked yams, display them in 
the village of the dead, and the village kin of the dead then 
distribute them amongst themselves, the true sister’s children 
of the dead securing the greatest share. 

To end mourning the kin of the surviving spouse again 
bring another large gift of uncooked yams. If their kinsman 
is a widower, his neck cord of mourning is cut, his body char- 
coal is washed off, his ornaments are replaced with fragrant 
herbs in them by the kin of his dead spouse who then lead him 
back to his own village, never to return to theirs. If their 
kinsman is a widow, her neck cord of mourning is cut, and 
she is treated as the widower, but in addition the four or five 
inches longer grass skirt than others wear, which she has 
had to wear throughout her year of mourning is ceremonially 
clipped little by little until it is the usual knee length only. 

At these big btoobtoore gifts by the kin of the survivor to 
the kin of the dead we find three distinct groups sitting apart 
from one another at the ceremony (if the dead is a man). 

(1) The village susu of the surviving spouse. 

(2) The village susu of the dead (and if the dead is a man, 
a third group). 

(3) The children of the dead, and the children of the village 
brothers of the dead. 

If the dead is a woman, group (3) is a part of group (2) 
necessarily, and is not distinguished from group (2) in be- 
haviour as it is if the dead is a man. 

Group (i) give the big gift of uncooked garden yams to 
group (2) (bwobwore). 

Group (3) give a much smaller but adequate for one meal, 
gift of cooked yams to group (i) (siudana). 

Group (2) repay the gift of group (i) ultimately on the 

196 Economics 

death of the surviving spouse. Group (3) are not allowed 
to eat of the yams given by group (i) to group (2) — this is the 
prohibition of eating of the food of their dead fathers’ places. 
They do not get repaid for their gifts, siudana. They are 
paying for their father.^ They are all Boundary men to 
group (2) and they bear group (2)’s obligation of giving a little 
cooked food to group (i) gratuitously (when group (i) gives 
away the major gift to group (2) of uncooked food). 

After the first bwobwore that initiates mourning and before 
the last, which closes it, there are two or three bwobwore feasts 
between the village of the dead and the village of the survivor 
(who is still in mourning in the village of the dead). The 
first and last bwobwore are all display of a toll paid. But 
there are one or two real feasts in the interval between. 

I saw one called miaewaewara. Such feasts involve sago con- 
tributions and fishing by both villages, and also by the children 
of the dead (father). The fish and sago are cooked together 
by the men, one lot on one fire for the owners of the village 
of the dead, one lot on another fire for the owners of the village 
of the survivor, as well as for children of the dead of other 
villages, i.e. children of brothers, village brothers of the 
deceased. Own children of the dead do not eat, nor do children 
of the dead’s blood brothers. 

The food is obtained by communal effort by everyone 
present. Ask a native who will eat of it and he will reply 
“ the owners of the village of the dead only ; all others are 
under tabu not to eat ”. What this means in practice is 
that many others eat of food cooked on a different hot stone 
oven from that used for the food of the kin of the dead. After 
the feast the sisters’ sons of the dead helped by contributions 
from their true sisters’ husbands, distributed bananas to the 
classificatoiy children of the dead and to the village of the 
spouse of the sumvor, to nearly all who had come to the feast. 

The classificatory section of the children of the dead, 
group (3), are thus repaid for their previous services in pro- 
viding cooktJ food at uncooked yam exchange bwobwore. 
But the children of the dead (own true children), children 
of the village and susu of the widower, as distinct from the 
children of the widower’s classificatory village “ brothers ”, 
continue more private duties in occasionally taking cooked 
taro or banana mash to their father’s sister’s children, debts 
of true blood Boundary Man to true blood cross-cousin Owner. 

* But note, several paragraphs below, a qualification. 

Death and Mourning Exchanges 197 

And though I saw many such gifts given I never saw a single 
repayment. They are meals of the best food for the blood 
heirs of the dead given them without repayment by the dis- 
inherited (disinherited from our patrilineal viewpoint). 

There are also a series of real feasts between the village 
of the dead and all villages with which it has intermarried. 
The affinal relatives of the members of the village of the dead 
are to be found in nearly all the villages of the locality. All 
these villages now become involved in feasts. The members 
of such other villages connected with the village of the dead 
by intermarriage are called murimuri. After the death and 
interment, the murimuri come rushing into the village of the 
dead and vdth great show of force and violence cut down 
trees. I have not seen this done, as I have seen everything 
else I have described up to the present, both in marital exchanges 
and in death and mourning exchanges. But, shortly after 
it happened I was shown the fresh stumps of one betel nut 
palm, two large bread-fruit trees and one mwagoru ^ “ apple ” 
tree, and told by the murimuri themselves that they had done 
it as is customary. In this particular case the murimuri 
abstained from pig-hunting for two or three months, acting 
on the decision of the mother of the dead. She and her dead 
son were the repositories of pig-hunting magic in the locality, 
and pig-hunting was denied to thirteen villages for a decent 
time after the death in recognition of the fact. Then the 
mother of the dead released the restraint, and all the murimuri 
went out together on a pig drive. They came back in triumph 
with a huge boar which they threw down in front of the house 
of the dead. As they came into the village of the dead with 
their bag, shouting, I with them, out rushed the aged lady, 
the mother of the dead, brushing past me into the bush and 
wailing “ I’m frightened, I’m frightened ”. The hunters 
hurled down the pig unceremoniously, rushed the betel palms 
of the village, swarmed up them, stripped them bare of nuts, 
and were away out of the village almost before one realized 
what was happening. One grabbed a fish net, made to take 
it, but dropped it as he went. Some of the trees of the village 
had been cut down some months before with just such show 
of hostility. The trees left (the majority) had been under 
an interdict since the death. They are called yadiyadi. Their 
fruit may not be touched by the owners of the village or by 
anyone else. Now that the murimuri have given a large wild 

* Eugenia malaccensis, also termed Jambos malaccensis. 

198 Economics 

pig to the owners of the village of the dead they break the 
yadiyadi tabu and strip the trees with a show of fierce hostility. 
The spears they carry, coming straight from the hunt, add to 
the effect. This tree-cutting, pig-giving, tree-plundering, is 
always done irrespective of whether the dead was concerned 
with pig-hunting magic or not. 

This is the breaking of the tabu on the trees of the village 
after a death there, that is mentioned by Dr. Malinowski 
in the Argonauts of the Western Pacific. The yadiyadi 
tabu Dr. Malinowski terms gwara (which is a different tabu 
altogether and one not connected with death). Dr. Malinowski 
pictures the Trobrianders, coming on the kula, breaking the 
tabu. As far as I know that is only Trobriand native state- 
ment. Traditionally the murimuri went out on a hunt not 
for pig, but for man. On more than one occasion the men 
of Dobu Island being murimuri and needing a freshly-killed 
man to give to the village of the dead before they were free 
to break the tabu on the trees there, went out to sea at the 
sight of the Trobriand canoes coming down to make kula with 
the Dobuan district of Bwaioa half a mile or so away. Then 
on occasion, a Trobriand native was present at the breaking 
of a Dobu Island yadiyadi tabu — but only in the same capacity 
as the hunted pig of these peaceful days. Bwaioa, being 
kula partners with the Trobrianders, did not use them so, 
but found a victim elsewhere. What is certainly true is that 
kula visitors were never welcome in the interval between death 
and the breaking of the tabu, and that its breaking is one 
of the functions of the affinal relatives of the clan of the dead. 

The village of the dead, at sight of the large boar brought 
in by the murimuri went half mad with excitement. Everyone 
crowded on to view it and comment on its great size, on the 
old scars of former spear wounds that it bore. Men threw 
women into the air. In all cases these women were their 
father’s sisters whom men are allowed to treat so on great 
occasions. The pig was eaten. Some of it was given by the 
village of the dead to the murimuri. In all cases of such 
gifts, the donor took pig fat, boiled down to grease, poured 
it over a venerable and old man of the village to whom the 
gift was given, and smeared and plastered him with it. The 
venerable old man immediately flew into a great rage, danced 
in spear-fighting attitudes, cursed the givers of the gift, 
mentioned their sex organs in highly coloured and unflattering 
terms, damned their gift as probably having poison concealed 

Death and Mourning Exchanges 199 

in it, and invited them to explain why they had picked on him. 
One of the donors of the gift went into counter spear-fighting 
attitudes but did not say an)rthing very insulting, as the 
matter had already gone to the very borders of ceremonial 
hostility — it might easily become too dangerous. The old 
man in such cases washed himself and came back and ate 
heartily, although in public he had said he was not going to 
touch the stuff (the donors having gone home shortly after 
hearing the old man out). 

The village of the dead, owners and resident spouses, 
proceed to cut bananas, make a mash of them with taro, fish, 
and cook fish to put in the mash. They then take the cooked 
food to one village of the murimuri ; they have food enough 
for all in the village. The recipients of the food return the 
donors raw bananas and a few yams, not nearly as great a 
value as that received. So day by day the village of the dead 
give feasts of cooked food to all the villages of their murimuri, 
to one village a day. Some days they fish or go to trade for 
food, as the process is a severe strain upon them. Whenever 
they give a gift of such food they smear a recipient with sticky 
food mash. Gradually these one village feasts are finished ; 
then preparations go hot foot for sagali, the great feast. The 
murimuri send in domestic pigs for slaughter. The village 
of the dead slaughter its own pigs. The village of the dead 
fasts for a week before to save even more yams. Yams come 
in from murimuri and from the village’s own resources. Sago 
is worked by the village of the dead. Fish are caught, bananas 
cut. Then all members of other localities who are accustomed 
to invite members of this particular locality to their sagalis, 
and have treated them generously, are invited. 

The food is cooked and shared all round, the master of 

ceremonies crying “ X , your share this ! He who is 

dead was a great gardener. He came from his work at dusk. 
You creep home feebly at noon 

“ Y , your share this ! He who is dead had many 

domestic pigs. Your sows are barren.” 

“ Z , your share this ! He who is dead was a 

master of fish nets. This is how you catch fish.” 

Long after sagali the long platform built round the central 
graveyard stands, the platform that held the food. 

In this happy manner the locality pulls together its forces 
whenever death has stricken one of its important members ; 
nor is importance centred in a few persons. There are, of 



course, some wastrels who are not given such honours, but 
they are a small minority. 

By custom the village of the dead at sagali give away every 
bit of food collected, leaving none for themselves. By equally 
polite custom the recipients leave a little behind to ensure 
that the village of the dead will have something left to eat. 

The gifts of banana and taro mash with fish that precede 
s(^ali are carried by the men and women of the village of the 
dead to the village of the murimuri to which it is to be given. 
He who follows such a procession will see a good section of 
Dobuan custom. The men go in front bearing pots of food 
on their shoulders, with stripped coco-nut leaf or sago leaf ribs 
with a hibiscus flower or a piece of white coco-nut on top of 
each rib stuck jauntily into the food, the women follow behind 
with pots of food similarly decorated on their heads. Thirty 
yards from the village of destination a man hands his load 
over to another and drops out — goes back home. His deceased 
wife was of the village of destination. On the village boundary 
three or four stay with their heads down, putting their loads 
on the ground. Their fathers were of this village and are 
now dead. Others retrieve their loads and take them on. 
The rest go in, put down their loads on the platform of a 
larger house, then retreat a little and seat themselves. The 
owners of the village sit unconcernedly under their houses 
apparently brooding over astronomy or some such remote 
subject. Only one man of the donors joins a group. His 
wife is of this village and he talks to his parents-in-law, sister- 
in-law or brother-in-law. Suddenly one of the young men 
of the donors’ party pours food grease over an old man of the 
village. Immediately there is commotion between the two. 
The young man gets out of the way. Before it has died down 
the owners of the village have flung down counter gifts of 
newly plucked green bananas, a few yams. Everyone remains 
sitting down. The donors of the cooked food now observe 
their owii . emote broodings. Finally they pick up the bananas 
and yams and file away — ^those who have remained all 
this time on the outskirts of the village, leading. 


The Essentials of the Overseas Exchanges 

The kula IS a system of exchanges between a circle of 
islands, of which Dobu is one, maintained by about two annual 

The Overseas Exchanges 201 

overseas expeditions by each island. It is international, taking 
within its main circuit five different linguistic areas. The 
exchanges are not in continuous operation as the routine of 
the gardening would be interfered with too much. In Dobu, 
for instance, it is a mortal insult for one man to say to another 
“ you are always on the sea, and without new garden food ”. 
Gardening is the supreme occupation. In great part, as we 
have seen, the attention demanded by the garden is due to 
certain magical beliefs. A man must stand by his garden 
to protect it by magic when there is obviously no need for him 
to do anything else with it. If a man is away on the sea once 
the new yams are well formed and growing in his garden, 
his neighbours are believed to be able to attract his crop away 
by magic into their own gardens. If a neighbour says “ you 
are always on the sea and without new garden food ”, it is 
tantamount to saying “ you’ve been away leaving your garden 
unprotected, and I’ve taken advantage of you by my magic ”. 

The Dobuans make their overseas expeditions while the 
gardens are yet newly planted before the yam vines are more 
than a few inches long. The expeditions cease shortly after 
the time for staking the vines. The time for the voyages 
falls in March and April normally. These are the months 
just before the north-west monsoon gathers its full force ; 
it is still variable and usually not continuous. Sailing is 
possible both to the north and to the south, but it is not yet 
over-dangerous as in the stormier period that follows. Over- 
seas sailing is avoided during the more dangerous months 
of the later north-west monsoon, during the cool season (cold 
by native standards) of the south-east monsoon and during 
the calms that occur in between the monsoons in late November, 
December, and January. Fear of the sea, and fear of magical 
garden pillage make for fair weather sailing. 

The kula has already been described by Seligman 
and Malinowski. Dr. Seligman discusses the institution 
briefly with the assistance of reports from missionaries and 
Government officers, and from its trading aspect only. 
Dr. Malinowski has described the entire range of the institu- 
tion from his own first-hand observation most meticulously 
and accurately in his very fine study. Argonauts of the 
Western Pacific. 

In its trading aspects the kula ring may be divided into 
a northern section and a southern section. The northern 
section covers the Trobriands, the Marshall Bennets, Murua 

202 Economics 

(Woodlark Island) and Panamoti. In this area the greatly 
valued ornaments, armshells made from Trocus shell, are 
found and made. Here again the finest and most seaworthy 
canoes in these eastern waters are made — ^in the Marshall 
Bennets. Here further, the greenstone that circulates all 
over the eastern archipelago and for hundreds of miles west 
down the coast of Papua is quarried — ^in Murua. In this 
northern section no pottery is made. 

The southern section of the main kula ring covers three 
nationals, the Amphletts, Dobu, and Tubetube. This section 
is the section of potters, for all three, as distinct from 
the northern internationals, make pottery. Tubetube, in 
the south, is the port which receives the finest spondylus 
shell, which is made up into necklaces (together with the 
armshells above mentioned, the most valued possessions 
of the natives of all groups). This spondylus shell is known 
to be manufactured in Rossel Island to the extreme east, and 
in Port Morseby far to the west. Tubetube, the southern- 
most pottery district of the kula ring, receives this shell both 
from west and east. If we diagram this situation we have 
the following (see p. 203). 

The northern section exchanges its surplus of armshells for 
spondylus shell necklaces from Tubetube. Dobu is the nearest 
receiving station to Tubetube, and although Tubetube canoes 
go to Murua they always go by way of Duau, a Dobuan 
district. Tubetube canoes never go to the Trobriands or 
Trobriand canoes to Tubetube. Hence Dobu receives arm- 
shells from the Trobriands, and exchanges these armshells 
for the spondylus shell necklaces that the Tubetube men 
bring north. The Tubetube men do not carry their spondylus 
shell necklaces to Murua ; the explanation of this is, I believe, 
that since they must call in Dobu on their trade route to Murua, 
Dobu has become a shunting station that diverts the entire 
stream of spondylus shell necklaces to the Trobriands in 
exchange for Trobriand armshells. Dobuan canoes go to 
the Amphletts, to the Trobriands, and to Tubetube. The 
three pottery-making internationals, Amphletts, Dobu, and 
Tubetube, being comparatively close together, carry the 
exchange route of the northern ornament for the southern 

Murua, cut off from direct obtaining of spondylus shell 
for its armshells, despite its exchange voyage with Tubetube, 
sends its armshells to the Trobriands, thence to Dobu. The 


The Overseas Exchanges 


204 Economics 

return value in spondylus shells comes from Dobu to the 
Trobriands, thence to Munia. 

Thus the exchange of newly manufactured ornaments 
takes place as follows : 

(1) Concentration of the northern armshell ornament 
in the Trobriands. 

(2) Concentration of the southern spondylus shell orna- 
ment in Dobu. 

(3) Exchange between Dobu and the Trobriands. 

(4) The Trobriands recoup those other districts of the 
northern area, who contributed to the concentration in the 
Trobriands; with their share of the southern ornament ob- 
tained in exchange. 

(5) Dobu recoups Tubetube for the southern ornament 
concentrated in Dobu with most of the northern ornaments 
received in exchange. 

I have described this process as if I had observed it. 
Actually I have not, for I saw no newly manufactured spondylus 
shells coming up from the south, and I do not know how 
damaged this supply may be nowadays by white influence. 
And although I saw new armshells coming south through 
the Amphletts to Dobu, I did not see them coming from Murua 
to the Trobriands. 

The course of newly manufactured ornaments, however, 
is determined by the set course of old ornaments of long 
standing. These do not stop still. Armshells always go 
from Murua to the Trobriands and thence via Dobu to 
Tubetube. Spondylus shell necklaces always go from Tube- 
tube via Dobu to the Trobriands and thence to Murua. 

This course is reasonable for newly manufactured orna- 
ments also. Dobu, as the first port of call for Tubetube 
canoes, necessarily wants the southern ornament and necessarily 
gets it — for Tubetube uses Dobu as a port to get to Murua, 
and could have its trade route cut by provoking Dobuan 
opposition, by refusing to exchange. The peacemaking 
ceremony in this area consists essentially in one party ex- 
changing its particular ornament for the ornament of the 
other party. Refusal to make such exchange between Dobu 
and Tubetube would mean war and the isolation of Tubetube 
from the northern archipelago. 

The kula is essentially the continued exchange of all such 
ornaments, old and new. Since spondylus shell goes from 
Tubetube via Dobu via Trobriands to Murua and armshells 

The Overseas Exchanges 205 

go from Murua via Trobriands via Dobu to Tubetube, new 
and old alike, there would be a great concentration of spondylus 
shell in Murua and of armshells in Tubetube were nothing 
done about it. Actually this is prevented by the Tubetube 
men taking armshells to Murua annually, coals to Newcastle 
from the point of view of the areas of production of the orna- 
ments, and the Murua men taking spondylus shell necklaces 
to Tubetube annually, coals to Newcastle again. 

The non-economic character of the kula institution appears 
in bold relief in considering how Tubetube men take a valuable 
to its centre of production, and Murua men do so likewise 
annually with long sea voyages and great expenditure of time 
and energy. 

Were the kula an economic exchange merely, the northern 
non-pottery section would export its surplus only of newly 
manufactured armshells annually, while the southern pottery 
section would export an equivalent surplus of newly manu- 
factured spondylus shell necklaces only, in repayment of the 
armshells received. In this manner both north and south 
could possess an equal division of the ornamental products 
of north and south respectively. 

Actually this equal division exists ; it is effected by ex- 
changes. But actually also, the love of exchange has so 
dominated native life that the northern non-pottery division 
proceeds annually to export all its armshells, new, middle- 
aged, and old, and the southern pottery division exports 
annually all its spondylus shell necklaces, new, middle-aged, 
and old, in return. Then Tubetube, the southernmost pottery 
district secures its spondylus shell necklaces, previously ex- 
ported by the western route through Dobu, Amphletts and 
Trobriands, back by the eastern route from Murua. Murua 
of the non-pottery district secures the northern armshells, 
previously exported by the western route, back by the eastern 
route from Tubetube. On the west all the northern ornaments 
go south, all the southern ornaments go north. On the east 
the northern non-pottery district, Murua, recovers all the 
northern ornaments, while Tubetube recovers all the southern 
ornaments. Such recovery may take several years of annual 
expeditions before every^ ornament has gone full circle. So 
all the important and valuable ornaments of the five main 
internationals of the kula ring go round the mulberry bush. 

In practice the exchange involves the giving of credit 
and the need for honesty in meeting a debt. On the w'estern 

2o6 Economics 

side the armshells go from the Trobriands south to Dobu 
annually, some months before the spondylus shell necklaces 
go from Dobu north to the Trobriands in repayment, although 
spondylus shell necklaces often go north from Dobu to the 
Amphletts a few months before armshells come south from 
the Amphletts to Dobu in repayment. It must be understood 
that the entire circuit does not revolve in a regular procession 
from one district to the next, then to the next, and so on, 
every year. Each year’s overseas expeditions cease with an 
approximately equal number of armshells and spondylus 
shell necklaces everywhere. By the next year’s recurrence 
of the time for sailing, the north will have an extra balance 
of armshells, the south of spondylus shell by reason of the 
year’s work in fishing for shell. But this extra balance from 
one year’s fishing is little compared with the great stock in 
circulation, a stock representing the fishing of generations of 
shell fishers. 

It should be realized that the love of exchange is one of the 
great characters of Melanesian culture. In most Melanesian 
areas separate geographical districts practise different art- 
crafts, and exchange their diverse products amongst them- 
selves. This exchange is not always confined to the demands 
of utility. Thus some villages of the Admiralty Islands which 
do not make pottery exchange their own produce for stores 
of pots which far exceed the number they can use. The 
tribes that live in the sea lagoons a quarter to half a mile out 
from the shore in houses built on piles, cook their food in 
fresh water from the land. _The hill-top tribes, who come 
down from the hills to trade with the sea lagoon dwellers at 
a morning market on the uninhabited swampy coast, cook 
their food in sea water. At the market the sea dwellers barter 
their fishing catch for the garden products of the hill dw'ellers. 
The fishers, who have no gardens, exchange their produce 
with the gardeners, who do no fishing. Intoxicated with 
great love of exchange, they exchange even the water of their 
respective dwelling places and carry it home for the boiling 
of their food. 

This exchange of waters used to boil food helps to maintain 
the ^ customary market meeting every morning. Despite 
enmities, and commercial grudges, food must always be cooked, 
and cooked in the correct kind of water. 

In similar manner the hula exchange of ornamental valu- 
ables, useless enough in itself, helps to maintain annual 

The Overseas Exchanges 207 

exchanges of other objects that serve more utilitarian ends. 
I do not intend any view that such development of useless 
exchange is indispensable to the maintainence of the useful 
exchange. The useful exchange might maintain itself alone. 
Only in such a place as the kula ring, where suspicion of the 
black art of strange people runs rife, where enmity is likely 
to flare up easily, the over-development of exchange is a very 
good counter against the over-development of international 

This over-development of exchange flows from a system 
of exchange founded on utility. The northern non-pottery 
section of the kula ring imports pots from the southern section. 
Pots of the Amphletts are used for boiling food in the Tro- 
briands, in the Marshall Bennets, in Murua, as sepulchral 
pottery in Murua, and also for boiling food in the northern 
Dobuan districts of Tewara, Sanaroa, and Bwaioa. The 
southern Dobuan districts of Dobu Island and Duau use 
mainly the pottery made in Dui^u. The Dobuan district 
of Duau does not export pottery to the northern non-pottery 
making internationals, however. Tubetube supplies Murua. 
Greenstone is quarried in Murua, and polished in a few special 
villages of the Trobriands with sand specially imported for 
the purpose from Fergusson Island, fifty or sixty miles away 
to the south. The largest and finest adze blades are not used. 
They, like the armshells and spondylus shell necklaces, go 
round and round the kula ring in perpetual exchange ; some, 
however, are used in barter with districts outside the kula 
ring, as are some of the armshells also. The smaller adze 
blades are used. Murua which quarries the stone, does no 
woodwork, other than canoe-making. The adzes find use 
in woodwork in the Trobriands, They also find use in sago 
pith cutting in Dobu (they are still used so in Dobu, and 
cannot be purchased readily for this reason). Dobu exports 
sago to the Trobriands and also to the Amphletts — ^these 
places having no sago. Like Muruan greenstone adzes, 
Trobriand woodwork, wooden bowls, drums, and lime spatulas 
particularly, circulate all over the ring. Amphlett pots and 
Tubetube pots circulate over great portions of the ring. 
Dobuan sago over a smaller portion. Dobuan face paint 
and paint for the teeth also circulate far. In this manner 
different areas have special products, and by exchange, all 
areas are supplied with a selection of the products of 
each area. 


2o8 Economics 

Tubetube, according to Dr. Seligman, lives by making 
pottery and nose ornaments, and by importing the spondylus 
shell into the kula ring from without. All its material culture 
otherwise is imported, even its canoes, which it obtains from 
the north-east section of the kula ring. 

Similarly the Amphletts live by their pottery. They have 
to import the clay from Fergusson Island. This done, their 
pots supply them with Trobriand-made drums, wooden bowls, 
lime gourds and lime spatulas, bananas, yams, and coco-nuts 
from the Trobriands, greenstone adzes from Murua, sago, 
coco-nuts, and face and teeth paint from Dobu, nose ornaments 
from Tubetube. Their islands are wretchedly barren and 
deficient in food ; the islanders are dependent on outside food 

Necessary utilitarian exchange thus obtains in the kula 
ring. It is all done without direct barter. An expedition 
going out to seek ornamental valuables, e.g. a Dobuan canoe 
going to the Trobriands to seek armshells, takes large quantities 
of sago — representing solid unremitting work by all the families 
of the men who are the crew of the canoe. This sago they 
oflFer as a present to their Trobriand hosts, from whom they 
desire armshells. The armshells are given them some 
days later and also some of the special Trobriand products. 
There is often fair equivalence between the present given 
by guest to host, and that returned from host to guest some 
days later. But no haggling or questioning of equivalence 
is permitted. The armshell is, of course, given on credit 
and must be repaid some months later by a spondylus shell 

This pleasant method of utilitarian exchange flows from 
a mental concentration on the non-utilitarian exchanges of 
ornaments which involve a far longer credit than the few 
days’ credit which elapse between present and counter present 
of utihties. 

I have discussed the Dobuan use of the black art, the 
Dobuan fear of it, the fear of strangers and strange places, 
the fear of the sea, before I came to discuss the kula, because 
it will be apparent that the pleasant methods of overseas 
exchange of utilities contrast strongly with what might be 
expected of a people whose fear is great enough to lead one 
to think that silent trade, the most elementary form of barter, 
might well be their only method. It is likely enough that 
overseas exchange for the sake of gain merely would not be 

The Overseas Exchanges 209 

effective enough to withstand the sorcery-filled atmosphere 
of mutual suspicion between the internationals. Since sorcery 
and suspicion are so important, and so disruptive of relation- 
ship with strangers in general, overseas exchanges with certain 
special strangers must acquire at least corresponding importance 
to survive. Here is the fitness of the exchange for exchange’s 
sake of the most valuable ornaments, armshells and spondylus 
shell necklaces — an exchange that is like an annually repeated 
peacemaking ceremony (actually the means of cementing 
peace when peacemaking is done after war, but, if war has 
not broken the regular procedure, recurring annually regularly), 
an exchange that encourages competitive attempts at power, 
upon success in which pride is reared or upon failure in which 
pride is cast down, a useless exchange, upon which native 
energies are traditionally centred. Behind this annual peace- 
making ceremony with the stranger, otherwise the sorcerer 
and the enemy, ordinary utilitarian exchange is accomplished 
easily and without friction as a side issue. A great premium 
on exchange for its own sake, sets up extensive non-utilitarian 
exchanges that enlist stronger motives than desire for utilitarian 
gain merely against the great antagonistic disruptive forces 
of the black art, the fear of the sea, and the fear of strangers 
and strange places. 

The peacemaking function of the exchange, as set against 
strong disruptive hostilities, has not been greatly stressed in 
the theoretical discussion of the hula, except in one article, 
by M. Raymond Lenoir in U Anthropologie } M. Lenoir 
further appears to suppose that the magical ritual of the entire 
kula ring is communal, is connected with totemism, and is 
the basis of an international social group, to which young 
persons are admitted by initiation. Nothing could be further 
from the truth, and at the same time so near the truth as to 
what occurs with the tribes of Australia. The magical ritual 
of Dobu used in the kula differs in great part from that of 
the Trobriands, as will appear below. Totemism is not 
important in establishing international exchange partnerships 
between the pairs of individuals who exchange. There are 
no collective totemic rituals in the area. There is no ceremony 
of initiation. The young person, who is given kula magic 
by his father or his mother’s brother, is taught it in complete 
privacy lest others overhear it and steal it. One neighbour 

' “ Les Expyeditions Maritimes, Institution Sociale en Melanesia 
Occidentale,” L’ Anthropologie, vol. xxxiv, pp. 387-410. 

210 Economics 

is jealous of another in the acquisition of ornamental valuables 
in the places to which they journey together. It is true that the 
owner of the canoe performs certain ritual for the entire canoe’s 
crew. But the important charms and spells in the kula are 
those calculated to influence overseas strangers or partners 
to be generous in giving. These, no man does for another. 
Each man hopes that his own magic for this purpose is stronger 
than that of his fellows ; each man hopes to secure for himself 
supremacy and pride of place. That is why it is said of the 
valuables “ many men died because of them ”. Such men 
are believed to have been killed by the sorcery of their own 
canoe fellows, who were enraged at another obtaining so 
much more success than they, maybe obtaining the very 
valuable that one other considered his right (as in the case 
of the man Christopher told me he killed by sorcery over 
trouble of this kind — see p. 169). M. Lenoir has missed the 
point. Jealousy and striving for pride of place does not occur 
powerfully between two organized groups standing over 
against each other. Such jealousy and striving, leading often 
to the use of the black art on each other, takes place power- 
fully within the uvalaku, kula fleet, within the one tribal 
group, even within the small group that form a single canoe 

Through all M. Lenoir’s misconceptions he has, however, 
grasped the fact that the exchange of the ornaments, useless 
in itself, makes strongly for peaceful relationships between 
potentially hostile internationals. It is a good point. 

Providentially enough a great love of exchange for its 
own sake regardless of utility, is a strong protection to trade 
in an area rent by fear of the black art, suspicion, and hostility. 


Overseas Expedition 

When I went with the overseas canoes of Tewara, a small 
detachment going before the main Dobuan fleet, to the south 
Trob Hands, we took ten full days on the water to cover the 
sailing distance there and back, one hundred and twenty 
miles in all. The canoes hugged the lee of the reef all the 
way. Every night before twilight we beached the canoes 
on a coral outcrop of the reef, and slept there the night. If we 

Overseas Expedition 211 

had made good time, and had come upon the only large coral 
outcrop for miles early in the afternoon, we stopped and camped, 
lest we might be forced to spend a night at sea. This was 
no concession to my presence. It was their custom and their 
usual timidity. The delays irked me. Later, when in the 
Admiralties, I crossed open seas by canoe, exposed to the 
full Pacific swell and without any reef to hug, at the rate of 
forty miles a day, sailing by daylight or by night indifferently, 
I realized fully that even if the Dobuans were Argonauts of 
a kind, they were very indifferent sailors. They sail overseas 
in time of long calms and occasional winds. 

All the long times that we lay becalmed and unsheltered 
under the sun, cries rung intermittently, but regularly, across 
the water ; 

O, north-west wind, native of Gilibwai, native of Kibu, 
native of Sikokolo, native of Nubiam, clutch lamusi, the sail 
new woven of fine pandanus leaf, the misbehaving child of 
your husband. 

ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! 

O, north-west wind, native of Gilibwai, native of Kibu, 
native of Sikokolo, native of Nubiam, our yams are done, 
our water is done. Come, O, north-west wind, the sail lamusi 
new woven of fine pandanus leaf, take him in wedlock, 
ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! 

I did not obtain full understanding of these cries until 
later, on an expedition to Sanaroa, when we drifted in a calm 
all day, till close upon evening — ^the same type of cry rang 
out all day again : 

O, north-west wind, native of Kitava, native of Kibu, 
native of Kitalubululu, let us anchor at Siyawawa. You are 
my cross-cousin. Hear and come to me. 

ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! 

O, north-west wind, native of Kibu, native of Gilibwai, 
native of Nubiam, native of Sikokolo, who is stealing your 
husband away from you, your husband lamusi, the sail new 
woven of fine pandanus leaf. 

ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! ge ! 

These cries may only be uttered from the stern, the part 
of the canoe nearest to the wind-quarter that is invoked. 
I heard a man begin to start a cry from the bows and 
promptly check himself as committing an error. On the 
Sanaroa trip I had my best informant in the same canoe with 
me, and he gave me an explanation. 

212 Economics 

“ The wind is a person ; if we cry on her she comes ; but 
if we remain silent, dead calm, men likewise ; if I cry ‘ my 
cross-cousin ’ she answers ‘ yes ’, she comes.” 

Later on, I followed up this statement. My informant 
said “ long ago, when I was a child, I asked my grandmother 
— ‘ the winds, whence and how they come,’ and as she 
answered me, I answer you ”. I was then told the legends 
of the winds, telling how in the time of the first ancestors 
the winds were natives engaged in various adventures, with 
other of the ancestors, and how now they lived as supernatural 
persons in the various wind-quarters, emerging to blow their 
breaths from their mouths over the sea when called upon. 
If they were not called upon they never did anything, but 
remained inert. 

I have quoted the cries for the north-west wind only, so 
I may confine myself to the legend embodying the belief in 
that wind only. Yarata is the name of the north-west wind. 

“ Yarata, a pregnant woman, her place Yowana. She 
gave birth to a female child, whom she named Bwarakwaiyoyo. 
In the garden she set it in a taro plant. There she grew to 
maidenhood, so beautiful she that all other girls were forsaken 
by the youths on her account. 

With her women companions, sisters, and female cousins, 
Bwarakwaiyoyo goes paddling to sea in search of shellfish. 
They arrive at Yawaigili (a small atoll between Yowana and 
Tuma in the Lusancay group, the extreme north-westerly 
land known in Dobu). The women dive for shellfish, bring 
them, cook them in the earth oven, eat and sleep. While 
Bwarakwaiyoyo still sleeps they rise stealthily and paddle 
away, leaving her marooned on the small reef outcrop. Her 
mother, Yarata, blows over the ocean in search of her lost 
daughter. She discovers her and brings her back to Yowana. 

There Bwarakwaiyoyo marries and bears a male child. 
The child comes to manhood and sets sail to Kavataria 
(Trobriands) on the kula, a fleet of twenty canoes in his company. 

Bwarakwaiyoyo, in revenge for her being marooned on 
Yawaigili by the jealous malice of her companions, blows 
violently out to sea, and every canoe with the exception of 
her son’s is capsized. The sharks eat the crews. 

Such is the legend. But still when the north-westerly 
blows gently, Yarata is blowing the breath from her mouth, 
a light continuous wind. When the north-westerly wind 
brings up a squall, Bwarakwaiyoyo is blowing in anger. In 

Overseas Expedition 213 

the overseas canoes the men call upon Yarata. If Bwarak- 
waiyoyo comes blowing they face the black swell of squall, 
with whipped white sea at its foot, in its rapid advance and 
mutter the warding-off ritual, fearful of the traditional anger 
that was enkindled at Yawaigili and is not even now averted, 
although now Bwarakwaiyoyo does not blow, except at a 
magician’s behest. As the warding-off magic is muttered, 
ginger is spat in the direction of the squall. This I saw, 
for we encountered one violent squall at sea. 

The canoe cries are not ordinary incantations. They are 
in the Trobriand language of the Lusancay Archipelago 
to the north-west, where the wind called upon lives. Thus 
they are not in the usual esoteric speech of incantation, and 
they are not muttered under breath, as usual, and so kept 
as private property. The reason for this is that the true 
incantation for wind and rain is exclusively woman’s property 
and the men in their overseas sailing, without a true wind- 
maker with them, have only a makeshift to fall back upon. 
The makeshift was easier to get at and understand than the 
secret ritual, but I found later that it was in exactly the same 
pattern as the secret ritual employing a being kasa sona, and 
it embodies, of course, the same dogma that no effect comes 
from anything but incantation. The lying becalmed in the 
canoes was a very tiresome business, and hot enough to drive 
one nearly comatose for hours at a time, so that often I wished 
the semi-incantations would hasten a little in producing the 
desired effect. Delay in securing an effect never troubles 
the native belief one jot, however ; it is all in the day’s work. 
While this magic is being made, as it is made unremittingly 
in time of calm, no paddling is done. The canoe lies as motion- 
less as seaweed. For its future progress complete reliance 
is placed in the magic. As all sailing is done in time of calm 
with occasional wind only, a great strain is placed upon the 

Some of the more timid become scared of a choppy sea, 
that chops only half-way up the canoe side. They mutter 
magic at it to make it cease being choppy. 

The canoes of Dobu do not have the huge spread of sail 
that the canoes of Kitava use. They are heavier than the 
fast light canoes of Murua. Their pattern of construction 
is that of the Trobriand canoe. 

The Dobuans are not a seafaring people by love or by 
ability. Even their true wind magic is possessed by their 

214 Economics 

women. Old women control the winds for rainmaking 
purposes. Old women possess the incantations for making 
and for lulling hurricanes. They keep this superior magic 
closely to themselves, and the men admit that the women 
possess the ritual that is most needed by sailors. The women 
cannot make the kula. They are jealous of it, and are gifted 
with the power that can break it. They are not of the kind 
that easily allow their men a free hand upon the seas or in 
strange ports. 


The Ritual of the Kula 

The armshells of the north, which pass south in the kula 
exchange on the western side of the ring, are called mwali. 
The spondylus shell necklaces of the south which pass north 
on the western side of the ring, are called bagi. 

The southerners must go north on an expedition to solicit 
mwali. They carry no hagi, but in the case of the Dobuans, 
presents of sago and face paint only. Later, the northerners will 
go south to solicit bagi, carrying as presents the special products 
of their Trobriand home, carven woodwork, lime gourds, and 
the like. An equivalent practice prevails between the Amphletts 
and the Trobriands, south to north, and between the Amphletts 
and the Dobuans, north to south. So also are the relations 
between Dobu and Tubetube. 

It is a convention that a gift given by A to B when B comes 
overseas to A’s village will be returned by a gift of the other 
kind (a bagi for a mwali or vice versa), but of equivalent size 
and value when A comes overseas to B’s village later in the year. 
On the whole, fair dealing prevails ; but a man is never sure of 
it, and occasionally his overseas partner does not or cannot 
return a fair equivalent ; there is ample room for good luck or 
ill. Partnerships between the most powerful men who exchange 
the finest valuables are the most stable. But the majority of 
partnerships are not more stable than marriage partnerships 
in Dobu. They frequently break up, and new partnerships 
are contracted owing to one of the partners failing to meet his 
just obligations. One man usually has three or four partners 
in different places. 

A man is judged esaesa, rich man, or not, by the size of the 
valuables which he keeps in continuous possession and exchange 

The Ritual of the Kula 215 

in the kula. His reputation in native eyes is in very great measure 
estimated by his success in it. Such success in the kula exchange 
is not believed to flow from any natural causes. To the native, 
the giving to him of a most valuable present by a man of a strange 
place, the giving of such extensive credit, such reliance placed 
in his commercial honesty, is an annually repeated miracle. 
Knowing what we do know of the high value the Dobuan places 
upon successful theft and analogous anti-social practice, we 
may sympathize sincerely with his view that the trust 
reposed in him in the kula is a miracle of magic, a result of a 
power that is not natural or human, except in so far as the 
results of magic are natural or human. Knowing also Dobuan 
distrust of, and lack of hospitality to strangers, his fear of strange 
sorcery, the fact that he is given hospitality and fed by his host, 
his kula partner abroad, may well be viewed, as he views it, 
as one of the strange miracles of magic. If he, in return, does 
not cheat his creditor, and offers food and hospitality for many 
days to his kula partner and creditor when his partner visits 
him in his home, then he may well put down such exceptional 
behaviour towards one not of his blood to the powers of his 
partner’s magic over him. 

Success in the kula exchange is believed to depend much 
on the personal appearance of the man engaging in it. Such 
appearance is in part natural, in part supernaturally enhanced. 
In native thought, courtship of women and courtship of a kula 
partner are closely bound together. In both cases a fine person 
is held to be requisite ; in the ritual of the kula as in the ritual 
of love the same fine-scented lamalama^ leaves are used, and in 
both cases the frequent misfortune of a skin ruined by ringworm 
is conceived as the greatest obstacle to be overcome. In the 
kula, although the ordinary native remedies for a bad skin, and 
the ordinary toilet enhancements of black unguent for the face, 
betel nut for a red mouth and coco- nut oil for the body, are 
exploited carefully to the full, success is held to flow primarily 
from the ritual. The end of the ritual is to secure mwali or 
bagi, but its more proximate end is to create that personal beauty 
which is the prime requisite to success. One who knows the 
ritual attains personal beauty by mystical means, ritual means, 
ringworm, and ulcers or not ; one who does not know the 
ritual does not attain the mystical beauty which is so much more 
important than natural beauty that without the ritual a fine skin 
and person may go in despite, and failure result. 

^ Lamalama is Scaevola fructuscens, also called Scaevola Komgii Vahl. 

2i6 Economics 

In an examination of the kula ritual we must first deal with 
the legend of Kasabwaibwaileta, the legendary foundation of 
the ritual. It runs : 


The twenty-nine villages of Tewara and Uwamo equip 
each one a canoe ; Kasabwaibwaileta, a man of diseased skin 
covered with sores — inside his skin a handsome man — his 
canoe Kegawagoa. The fleet prepares for sailing ; Kasabwai- 
bwaileta has sago cooked between banana leaves on circles of 
white hot stones ; they eat ; he cries “ let us go 

They lash down the sea mats on the geboboi (structure built 
in mid-canoe to hold food, mats, and gifts) ; they set their 
stone axes on their shoulders ; they climb to their villages ; 
they sleep. 

Before sunrise, Boluba, mother of Kasabwaibwaileta, descends 
to Mulia to bring water ; she charms the water in the water- 
gourd. She says to her son “ a small unripe coco- nut you cut 
down, green betel nut you wrap up, green bananas you cut ”. 
He does this ; she utters a spell over the coco-nut, the betel 
nut, the green bananas. She gives him the water-gourd con- 
taining the water she has charmed ; he pours the water on the 
prow ; he takes the fruit she has charmed. 

They set sail ; at sea Kasabwaibwaileta performs the 
tunaseana ; the others eat — he does not eat. Kegawagoa out- 
strips the fleet ; the men of the Kegawagoa canoe sail round 
Siyawawa, Sanaroa, Udaudana, Raputat ; they wabuwabu. 

At this stage I must interrupt the movement of the legend in 
order to make it intelligible. The legend preserves the names of 
the twenty-nine villages of Tewara and Uwamo, adjoining 
small islands. This list of names I have omitted. Now, only 
four villages are left with only forty living persons, men, women, 
and children, in them. The charmed water is poured on the 
canoe prow to make the canoe fast, to enable it to outstrip the 
rest of the fleet. The tunaseana is a charm performed by the 
canoe-owner at sea ; with a tabu of not eating until after nightfall 
associated with it. Siyawawa, Sanoroa, Udaudana, Raputat 
are the names of villages in Sanaroa Island. 

To ^ wabuwabu is to get many spondylus shell necklaces 
from different places, different villages in the south on security 
of the same one armshell left at home in the north, or vice 
versa, many armshells from the north on a security that cannot 

The Ritual of the Kula 217 

meet them, promising the one valuable which one possesses 
to many different persons of different places in return for their 
gifts that are being solicited. It is sharp practice, but not 
complete confidence trickstering. 

“ Suppose I, Kisian of Tewara, go to the Trobriands and 
secure an armshell named Monitor Lizard. I then go to 
Sanaroa and in four different places secure four different shell 
necklaces, promising each man who gives me a shell necklace. 
Monitor Lizard, in return later. I, Kisian, do not have to be 
very specific in my promise. It will be conveyed by implication 
and assumption for the most part. Later, when four men appear 
in my home at Tewara each expecting Monitor Lizard, only 
one will get it. The other three are not defrauded permanently, 
however. They are furious, it is true, and their exchange is 
blocked for the year. Next year, when I, Kisian, go again to the 
Trobriands I shall represent that I have four necklaces at home 
waiting for those who will give me four armshells. I obtain 
more armshells than I obtained previously, and pay my debts 
a year late. The three men who did not get Monitor Lizard 
are at a disadvantage in my place, Tewara. Later when they 
return to their homes they are too far off to be dangerous to 
me. They are likely to attempt to kill their successful rival, who 
did get the armshell. Monitor Lizard, by the black art. That 
is true enough. But that is their own business. I have become 
a great man by enlarging my exchanges at the expense of 
blocking theirs for a year. I cannot afford to block their exchange 
for too long, or my exchanges will never be trusted by anyone 
again. I am honest in the final issue.” 

To loabuwu'ou successfully is a great achievement. It causes 
the black art to operate, but not against the man who does the 
wabtiwabu. It is because of the frequency of the wabuwabu 
practice that a man who secures a fine valuable is often 
enviously hated by his compatriots who had an equal, but a 
temporarily unmet, claim upon it. He is in favour, high in 
prestige, and they are cast down, shamed for the year, although 
they had as legitimate an expectation of successfully securing 
a return for their credit as their luckier rival. Hence it is said 
of the kula valuables : “ many men died on their account.” 
So also are interpreted the deaths of men on kula expeditions. 
Their graves on small coral reef outcrops are remembered and 
chronicled on the seas. They were sorcerised by their luckless 
rivals indignant at their success. And sorcery actually is used 
frequently by a man, who has failed to get a valuable, upon 

2i8 Economics 

another man who has obtained it successfully, when both men 
were induced to give credit on the strength of their belief. 
(See account given by Christopher, pp. 169.) 

A temporary lapse of commercial honour may occur not 
only as the result of previous wabuuoabu, but also when a man 
has given a kula valuable as part of the bride-price and has not 
received a return gift promptly from his affinal relatives. 
Wabuwabu is the kind of sharp practice that is possible without 
entailing too serious consequences, a kind in which the Dobuan 
delights. Hence the great mythical hero of the kula necessarily 
succeeds in performing it. To return to the legend : 

Again they sail, the fleet, to Wamea and Gumawana^ ; 
brown eagle, first to arrive of the fleet, sees a canoe beached at 
Wamea ; he says “ The tautauna * men are here ” — as it 
turned out, Kasabwaibwaileta. He had sailed by Basima and 
Dilia, turned east and come to shore long before the others. 
The men of Kegawagoa again they wabuwabu. Humming 
bird in the bows blows on the shell trumpet again and again. 

They set up masts, haul up sail — away to Vakuta® ; again 
Kegawagoa arrives with the rest of the fleet not in sight and 
behind. They go to their partners ; Kasabwaibwaileta remains 
under his mat in the canoe. His cross-cousin goes to pokala * 
Gomakarakedakeda ® ; many bananas, much betelnut he 
throws down. They would not give it him ; night falls. 

Kasabwaibwaileta rises ; he charms and his diseased skin 
falls from him ; he emerges a most handsome man. He does 
not bathe, comb his hair, or paint his face — without this he is 
most handsome. He charms the green coco-nut ; it grows and 
ripens ; he charms the green bananas ; they grow and ripen ; 
he charms the green betel nut ; it ripens. 

In the night he goes to the house of the partner of his cross- 
cousin ; only the daughter of the house is there. He gives her 
the gifts, instructing her not to unwrap the betelnut, but to 
^ve it to her father so. To-morrow he will return. Her heart 
is trembling for the handsome stranger ; he returns to his 
canoe, he resumes his sore-covered skin. 

The next morning the men go again to their partners ; 

' Places of the Amphletts. 

* Bwaioa. 

’ South Trobriands. 

* Offer solicitary presents to the possessor of an ornamental valuable 
desired from him. 

‘ Name of a particular spondylus shell necklace. 

The Ritual of the Kula 219 

Kasabwaibwaileta himself remains under his mat. The 
possessors do not give Gomakarakedakeda ; night falls. 

Kasabwaibwaileta charms, his diseased skin falls from him ; 
he goes to the house of the partner of his cross-cousin ; his 
beauty, the charmed potency of his gifts, his beauty move them. 
Their hearts tremble with desire for him. They give him 

He returns to his mat unseen ; he resumes his diseased 
skin. On his head beneath an ulcer he places the necklace 
wound up. 

They sail to Gabuwana.* They cook pig in the earth 
oven. Kasabwaibwaileta calls his grandson ; “ you louse 
my hair ” — his grandson louses ; he lifts up the ulcer. He 
exclaims “ Gomakarakedakeda ”. “ No ” says Kasabwai- 

bwaileta, “ that is a Tewara bagi I carry.” The child louses. 

Secretly he informs his father “ Kasabwaibwaileta 
Gomakarakedakeda he carries ”. “ E ! sore skin ! foul skin ! 
it is impossible.” ” My father I saw it. I loused his hair. 
Beneath the ulcer he has it concealed.” 

With his brothers they plot together ; the women go to 
bring water ; the men follow ; they muddy the water. They 
prepare to sail ; they say “ Kasabwaibwaileta, go, bring water ”. 
He sits down and waits for the mud to settle ; he blows mucus 
from his nose ; it turns to rocks. Meanwhile, they have sailed 
away ; he rises with the water ; he sees them forsaking him ; 
he seizes great rocks and hurls them at the canoe ; the canoe 
zigzags and escapes. These rocks are still to be seen — rock 
islands just south of Gabuwana and one far removed and 
beyond the Amphletts — Gurewaiya. 

Kasabwaibwaileta wails ; night falls ; the stars appear. 
He charms a kaiawana tree into growth. One branch puts 
out to the north-west wind, one branch puts out to the south 
wind, one branch puts out to the south-west wind, one branch 
puts out to the south-east wind, one branch puts out to the 
north-east wind. On the branch of the north-east wind he 
treads ; he charms ; a sagusagu palm grows on the branch 
of the north-east wind. He climbs ; he stays. 

Kibi (a constellation) comes near. “ My friend I embark 
with you.” “ It is not possible. Goods many I have shipped 
in my canoe.” 

Gomayawa (Pleiades) comes near. ‘‘ My friend, I embark 
vrith you.” “ Come, embark.” “ Pwopwosa he embarks, 

' A coral outcrop on the reef near the south Trobriands. 

220 Economics 

kalitahu he embarks, sinasinate he embarks, memwai he embarks, 
ali^ he embarks. The star his arm-band “pandanus” 
streamer (of shells) he fastened on. (The names are of sea- 
shells not identified — sinasinate, however, is the sea-urchin. 
They remain in the sky to-day, imaged as a streamer worn 
in the arm-band of Pleiades, as the pandanus float, so worn 
by a man at a dance.) He hopped ; he crossed Mwaniwara, 
he went inland, Lalaiya,Tanubweala,Tribut. (Places of Tewara). 

Kasabwaibwaileta disembarks. He stays with the sky 
people ; he marries. His wife bears him a child. The 
children play kenokinoki. One throws a spear into kalitahu. 
He lifts it up. He says “ nizcaroa Kasabwaibwaileta 
sees Tribut far below on the earth. [Niwaroa is the word 
for Tribut of Tewara in the language of Megarewa, the sky 

It dawns ; he feigns illness ; his wife goes to the garden ; 
he prepares a rope ; he fastens the necklace to the rope ; a 
child holds the rope in the heavens ; he descends the necklace. 
As he descends it breaks, the necklace, a small part here below, 
a larger part the child pulls up to the heavens. It swings 
out in a storm to Woodlark Island, to Sud-est. The child 
coils it up. Kasabwaibwaileta lands in a betel palm, magilode. 
His mother is sweeping below ; he throws down a betel nut ; 
it strikes her ; she finds him. 

His relatives are engaged in a funerary feast for him. 
They build a house at Tribut, according to his instructions ; 
he charms the house, hitting it with an axe, while they are 
inside. He charms, changing them into birds, knocking 
on the four sides of the house in turn, they fleeing to the opposite 
sides in turn, their feathers growing each time. He allotted 
the birds their foods ( details abbreviated). 

Scrub hen, his mother formerly, and Yodudu, his wife, 
are still friendly to men and stay about close to the village, 
unlike other birds. 

Kasabwaibwaileta adorns himself in armshells and neck- 
laces. He goes by Tanubweala, Lalaiya, Pwosipwosimo, 
Kedatete, Magisewa to Mwaniwara (east point of Tewara), 
He wails for Tribut. He dives ; at Woodlark Island he emerges 
from his dive. 

Kenokinoki is a game at piercing rolling sections of banana 
tree stem with spears-in the legend the child’s spear opens 

' Names of .shell = A linguistic touch. 


The Ritual of the Kula 

one of the shells of Pleiades’ arm-band. Gomakarakedakeda, 
the fabulously long necklace, sweeping from the heavens 
to Woodlark Island and down to Sud-est in a storm, means 
monitor lizard on the path, gomakara being the monitor lizard 
and keda, a path. 

It is believed that gomakara, the monitor lizard, trumpets 
at home in Tewara when the men receive gifts abroad. The 
women staying at home hear the sound and send round word 
that their men folk have secured valuables. Not any monitor 
lizard may give this omen — only the monitor lizard of Tribut — 
legendary home of Kasabwaibwaileta in Tewara and now 

The main point of the legend that is brought out in the 
kula ritual is that a man of evil and diseased skin sheds his 
sore-covered skin, emerges a handsome man and profits by 
it to secure a necklace of a fabulous size ; this will become 
more apparent when we come to consider the ritual in detail. 
The monitor lizard has a certain artistic relevance to the tale, 
because it is believed that he sheds his old skin periodically 
and emerges young again. 

The skin of gomakara, the monitor lizard, is used as the 
tympanum for the native drum. While the overseas ex- 
pedition is in progress dancing is rigidly prohibited, both 
to the men on the expedition and to the women at home. The 
drums are put away. They may be brought out at the con- 
clusion of a successful expedition, however. This was done 
at the conclusion of the kula trip I made in Sanaroa. Whether 
it was done on the conclusion of the kula trip to Vakuta I do 
not know, as the night before sailing home I was north near 
Sinaketa. Perhaps that is why the trumpeting of gomakara 
announces a successful termination of the expedition, and 
the women are informed of it beforehand. When I made 
the kula in the canoes of the Tewara folk and we stayed in 
Gumasila in the Amphletts, the local men and women of 
Gumawana danced all night. I said to an old man of Tewara, 
who stayed with me a long while, “ Why do you not go to the 
dance, Yogalu ? ” The old man was offended. He said 
“ Had I wished to do so long ago I had gone ”. Then after 
a pause “ Magile (his wife) would insult me. She would 
say I had been happy ”. At the dance I found none of the 
Tewara men ; on the other hand two young Tewara women 
who were accompanying their husbands to the Trobriands 
were there. Later I learned that no man on the kula can 

222 Economics 

go near a dance, and if his wife is left at home she cannot 
express any happiness at home. Men on the kula and wives 
at home cannot sing, dance, yodel, or tell legends. Apparently 
the two young married women at the dance in Gumawana 
were taking advantage of an unusual situation for which there 
was no customary rule. Their presence in the kula canoes 
was exceptional and due to relationship duties connected with 
a mourning feast in the Trobriands. 

Kisi, a propros of the tabus enforced during a kula ex- 
pedition, recalled an old event : 

“ Long ago we were in Vakuta and Tolibwogwo (Dr. 
Malinowski) said ‘ whose canoes are those ? ’ They said 
‘ from Tewara ’. ‘ Let them come and relate the legend of 
Kasabwaibwaileta to me.’ We answered ‘ Bomama ’ (our 
sacred prohibition). So also in the gardens. When we are 
engaged in garden ritual as when we are engaged in the kula 
ritual we do not play, we do not sing, we do not yodel, we 
do not relate legends. If in the garden we behave so the 
seed yams say ‘ what charm is this ? Once before was a good 
charm — but this, what is this ? ’ The seed yams mistake 
our speech. They do not grow.” 

When I was with the kula canoes this bomama was observed. 
Once the object of the expedition was attained, however, the 
prohibition was not in force. On the homeward voyage when 
we had put in at Gabuwana, the scene of Kasabwaibwaileta’s 
marooning, I woke up in the middle of the night to hear a 
legend in full swing, and at the conclusion of the Sanaroa 
expedition there was a dance. 

One way of marking the attainment of an object is an 
infringement of a prohibition obligatory in the process of 
attaining it. Thus Dobuan marriage ceremony consists most 
importantly of eating and drinking in the sight of the mother- 
in-law, this action being rigidly prohibited throughout the 
engagement stage. It is possibly this reasoning that finds 
grounds for belief in the attainment of the kula when gomakara, 
the drum tympanum in potentiality, trumpets. The drum 
tympanum in actuality is necessarily debarred from announcing 
the tidings, for legend relates how in the time of the first 
ancestors, drums sounded of their own volition, but someone 
carried one under sea water, and now they have to be beaten 
to produce sound. 

The monitor lizard is of no use to the Dobuans other than 
as a potential drum tympanum. Drums are never used except 

The Ritual of the Kula 223 

for a dance. Whether the fabulous spondylus shell necklace 
of the great legend of the kula is called “ Monitor Lizard on 
the Path” because of the tabus associated with the kula, the 
omens, or because like Kasabwaibwaileta he is believed to 
shed his old skin and emerge new and handsome, I do not 
know. There is a possible chain of free association. I am 
not merely indulging in such association, however ; for I wish 
to emphasize that the ritual of Dobu does carry with it sacred 
prohibitions that tend towards seriousness, perhaps even 
glumness, as in the case of the Puritan Sabbath amongst 

Kibi and the Pleiades are spoken of by Kasbwaibwaileta 
as my friend. Three constellations, Kibi, Pleiades, and Yuyuna 
(tail of Orion), are the only stars singled out by the natives for 
attention and naming.^ The garden calendar is closely 
connected with their annual passage across the sky. Clearing 
the bush takes place when Pleiades is in the north-eastern 
sky at an angle of about fifteen degrees above the horizon. 
This is about October. Before harvest is due Pleiades, followed 
by Orion, sinks in the south-west and is not seen for a time. 
Pleiades * is said to pole his canoe round the horizon from 
south-west to north-east, Orion following him in like manner 
in this time of invisibility. The two meet in their canoes. 
Then Pleiades rises in the north-east over Woodlark Island — 
and it is harvest time. Clearing and planting follow again 
when Pleiades climbs somewhat. The kula expeditions take 
place shortly after the bush clearing and planting of seed-yams. 
Hence Kasbwaibwaileta mounts a sagusagu palm grown by 
magic on the branch of the north-east wind of a magically 
grown tree. Pleiades has mounted in the north-east. 

In accordance with all Dobuan theory the heroes or villains 
of legends still are alive, living supernaturals still capable 
of producing effects whether of themselves or under magical 
compulsion. The sky people living near the stars, with whom 
Kasbwaibwaileta inter-married, still live there. Kasabwai- 
bwaileta still lives. So also we saw before in considering the 
legend of the origin of fire, the katana fire still issues from 
the pubes of women. Kasabwaibwaileta, as a still living 
supernatural, is of the greatest importance in the Dobuan 
kula ritual. Unlike the names of other supernaturals important 
as magical familiars, his name is not secret. His legend is 

^ Venus is also named, however. 

* I use the singular to express the native conception. 

224 Economics 

not only not secret, but the Dobuans consider it as their most 
important legend and tell it ad nauseam with unfailing verve 
and grand gesticulation. 

The ritual proceedings open with the charming of the 
seuseula, the sea-mat, which is to cover food and valuables 
shipped in the geboboi, the structure erected in mid-canoe 
to hold the pokala, solicitary gifts. The toni-waga, owner of 
the canoe, rises early in the morning and performs this rite 
in private. He chews ginger and spits it on to the mat with 
this incantation, each toni-waga performing the rite for his 
own canoe. 

heavily the kuloia ^ cries 
by the shore at mulia. 
your cry is of the sunrise and morning, 
my cry is of the first dawning half-light. 
mwali over the elbow, 
fine karumoi ’ 

my cry is of the first dawning half-light 
from my sea-mat 
from inside my geboboi 
from the nose of the canoe 
I cry out, I cry out in the morning, 
over the top board of my canoe 
the spray wetting 

I strike it, I thrust it back returning, 
my embarking, many embarking, 
their kune* to me with my wife 
with my child 

the report, the tidings of us is a different tidings.* 

At the same early morning hour as the toni-waga descends 
to charm the sea-mat, his wife goes into the forest and gently 
draws up the root of a certain plant, charming as she does so. 
The charm declares that the speaker’s root (naming her husband) 
is the sibukaka root, dwells on the thunder that his voyage 
will awaken in the heavens, the privy whisperings of the 
charmer to the owners of mwali or bagi, the shaking effect 
that he will produce in the eager bodies of his partner, his 
partner’s wife and child, and finally how they will dream in 
the night of him and rise from the dream. 

The woman comes away, leaving the root lying. At mid- 
day she goes with her husband, they collect it together, and 
it is placed in the man’s lime gourd against his chewing it 
with betel nut just before he meets his kula partner abroad. 

Then follows the ritual halt. Once when I made the 
kula to the Trobriands we entered the canoes and pulled over 

* A bird, unidentified. 

* Spondylus shell. 

* Ciobuan term for kula. 

* i.e. we have a better reputation than other persons. 

The Ritual of the Kula 225 

to Uwamo, an uninhabited island next door. It took us 
about half an hour to reach there. We then spent the after- 
noon sitting solemnly on the beach, ignoring the fair wind 
that could have taken us to our first overseas halt in the 
Amphletts easily before night-fall. We slept on the beach 
and next morning drifted at sea in a calm till a breeze took 
us to Wata, an uninhabited outlying island of the Amphletts, 
late in the afternoon. 

There is an alternative form of the ritual halt practised 
in Tewara, however ; it is followed when the canoes go south, 
rather than north. After the toni-waga and his wife collect 
the charmed root at midday, those going on the expedition 
descend to the beach and sit solemnly beside the canoes on 
the beach all the afternoon. A fair wind was blowing on this 
occasion ; but according to ritual custom it had to be ignored, 
despite the risk of a calm next day. As dusk fell everyone 
rose and re-climbed the hill to the village, remarking that 
the wind, which still set fair, had been impossible. Next 
morning early, we put to sea in a calm and did not get to Sanaroa, 
with a very light breeze, until close on midnight, a fifteen- 
hour voyage that would have been possible in four or five 
hours the afternoon before, when the ritual halt was observed. 

It does not make any difference to custom how the winds 
may be. The ritual halt may occur with a grand wind for 
sailing blowing, and next day the canoes may put to sea in 
a calm, drift under the sun all day and catch a capful of wind 
in the evening. For good or bad the ritual must go forward. 
The preliminary halt on an adjoining uninhabited shore, or 
on the shore below the village, is intended to take the voyagers 
away from their everyday occupation, leave them solemnly 
by themselves and clear their minds of distractions. Next 
day they cannot return to everyday matters — the ritual is in 
swing and out to sea they must go. 

Early next morning the toni-waga places two yams and 
a coco-nut at the bottom of the geboboi, and in charming 

them speaks of Kasabwaibwaileta’s having charmed his pokala, 
of Kasabwaibwaileta’s placing them so, of his own placing — 
then follow several verbs of method of placing ; and as the 
magical tour de force, karumoi, long soulava necklaces, green- 
stone blades, and a repetition of the same verbs of methods 
of placing— not yams and coco-nut now, but karumoi, bagi, 
greenstone blades. The conversion of the solicitary gifts 
into valuables of the kula is ritually completed before the 



expedition is begun. All the solicitary gifts, yams, sago, 
coco-nuts, are placed rapidly on top of the charmed yams and 
coco-nut in the geboboi. The charm is said to rise up and 
permeate the entire geboboi and its contents. 

If the preliminary halt has been in complete isolation from 
the village — on a neighbouring but isolated shore or island 
or sandbank, there is no tunaseana in the canoe at sea next 
day. If, on the other hand, the preliminary halt has been 
merely a sitting on the shore from midday to dusk, on the shore 
below the village, and a return up the hill to the village 
at night, the tunaseana must be performed in the canoe the 
next day. 

There is no early eating on the day of embarkation, if the 
tunaseana is to be performed. The toni-waga cannot eat 
till night-fall. He charms the tunaseana in the canoe and his 
companions eat a little food each in the afternoon. First 
must come his charm : 

O, foot of the geboboi, cover of the geboboi, 
wenio of silana 
barking, barking, 

I shout you back, 
your return. 

they take up, they stack in the bush 
the nanoa ‘ 

they tread the hill-ridge 
they pluck the scented ane 
the canoe s resting log stamped on with cursing, 
they shade their eyes looking far to sea 
they look nearby, 
from the end of my outrigger float 
from the foot of my stemboard 
the howling infant lelebuyo 
they fall away, they go back mourning 
they go from out my sea-mat 
they float away. 

with my evening star 
the star that accuses of meanness rises 
by the steep side of gabuwana 
the evening star 

the star that accuses of meanness rises 
my friends 

your fish is a different dish 
many at my back, 
my fish, sulua. 

I with my kune • of very great valuables only, 
my kune of very great valuables only. 
karumm from stretched out finger tip to mid-breast, 
the tood brought out wading in the sea. 
my kune 

of very great valuables only. 

* Canoe launching logs. 

* Dobuan term synonymous with the Trobriand term kuU. 


The Ritual of the Kula 

man kasabwaibwaileta 
you go to the steep cliff side 
you dress 

the man miaropa (naming himself) 
he goes to kokua 
by the bay he dresses 
the thunder tidings of my coming rolls 
and crashes 
it crashes. 

over kedagwaba the new moon 
turns its back, 
they call crying on it 
they call crying on it 
they are happy 
on their btvaima ' 

on the extreme edge of the outward going support 
they look out on the path 
they look for us 
they look for me 
they look. 

After the charm is done the men may eat a little food, the 
toni-waga, the charmer, refraining from eating till nightfall. 

With this charm we are further into the magical wood. 
The simplicity of the earlier charms is done. First it must 
be noted that the charm is in a fairly common two-part pattern. 
The first part is the egoyainina, the naming and hurling away 
of evil. The second part, beginning “ with my evening 
star ” is the ebwaitUna and naming and superimposing of 
good. The charms are uttered inaudibly by the charmer 
in a mumbled sing-song. In between egoyainina and ebwainina 
the charmer ceases his sing-song mumble and says distinctly 

and loudly : “ May the mouth of X be stopped up, the 

evil mouth of X .” X in the charm I heard at sea 

was the charmer’s own brother. After this remark, to which 
nobody pays any attention, the charm is resumed in the 
ebwainina part. The remark about someone named left 
behind is invariably interposed in the same form between 
egoyainina and ebwainina. I asked about it and was told : 
“ O, he will be saying, ‘ I hope they have bad luck with their 
kula: ” 

The egoyainina, naming and hurling away of evil, is a charm 
to take the place of complete isolation in the ritual halt. Its 
wording therefore interprets the purpose of the complete 
preliminary halt, for which it is a substitute, used only when 
there has been partial isolation in the ritual halt. 

Wenio is a legendary dog of huge stature — he is here 
symbolic of barking dogs in general. The women stack up 
the nanoa, or launching logs, but not until the canoes are out 

* House platform. 

228 Economics 

of sight at sea. Children and infants are held to have a bad 
influence on the expedition. When we were engaged in the 
ritual halt, sitting on the beach at Tewara before the return 
to the village for the night before embarkation, I was taken 
to task by the head-man for talking to youths and children 
and allowing them behind my back. Hence it appears that 
the preliminary ritual halt is to separate the kula adventurers 
from dogs, women, and children, and all those liable to curse 
the expedition. So much for the removal of evil. 

Coming to the ebwainina, the star that accuses of meanness 
is Kubwana, Venus, who used to shine in the day, and the sun 
in the night ; but neither Kubwana or the sun lit up properly 
under these conditions, and the present order had to be adopted. 
Venus is always watching people at their evening meal, looking 
into the cooking pots, and is spoken of as “ the root of greed 
Sulua is said to be a fish of very fine appearance — he has not 
his equal in the sea. The charmer here compares himself 
with his friends in his own favour. Fish, bird, and 
tree are linked totems, but Sulua is not totemic to my 

The food referred to may be that put into the gehoboi as 
pokala, or that which may be eaten when the charm is done. 
Both of these are carried out to the canoes by women wading 
in the sea. Kokua is a bay near Vakuta, where the Dobuans 
dress up before going to meet their northern partners. The 
new moon’s rising is usually looked for, and children salute 
it with whooping. It cannot be done, however, while a man 
of importance is eating his evening meal. The concluding 
lines refer to the charmer’s kula partner looking out for his 
approach with eagerness — evidently as children for a new moon 
rising. It is a symbol for happiness, the whooping at the 
new moon. 

The canoes land at an entirely isolated spot not too far 
away from their final destination for the concluding and most 
important ritual. This is the private but ceremonial washing 
off the sweat of the voyage and the anointing for an inter- 
national occasion. The incantations for this occasion are 
the most valued in the kula magic, to a native among his 
richest posssessions and the object of his greatest pride. No 
more the toni-waga, owner of the canoe, performs incantations 
for the entire canoe. Even in the tunaseana last quoted he 
names himself only, side by side with the supernatural, 

The Ritual of the Kula 229 

Kasabwaibvvaileta, the star spoken of as “ the star of greed ”, 
is quoted with citation of his superior “ fish ”, his different 
and greater kune. Now no man charms in the presence of 
another or for another. It is every man for himself and every 
man hoping for more success than his fellows. Those who 
know the following charms feel their superiority ; these charms 
are such that one man will not sell them to another for pay. 
Knowledge of them secures pre-eminence in the exchanges, 
a pre-eminence coveted above the possible pay for a 
charm : 

the bathing place of woodlark island I approach, 

I draw away from you 
I approach close to you. 

your wife crosses over and comes down to me, your child, 
your back that fronted me is turned about, 
your child’s back does not front me 
my skin is that of a man of rank, 
my features are those of a man of rank. 

I draw away from you. 

I approach close to you. 
they float away from me, 
they float close to me. 

This formula is uttered while the charmer stands in the 
sea alone, apart, and beats himself over shoulders and body 
with the leaves of the lamalama tree,^ the leaves used in love 
charms also. He has three bundles, one for each formula, 
and he throws one away as each formula is ended. 

The noteworthy point about this incantation is that it is 
not directed to the charmer’s kula partner, who will give him 
a kula valuable soon. It is directed to Kasabwaibwaileta, 
now of Woodlark Island (after the dive from Mwaniwara in 
eastern Tewara).* Hence “ the bathing place of woodlark 
island I approach ”, though in fact no canoe from Dobu goes 
near Woodlark Island (Murua). 

“ If Kasabwaibwaileta turns his back upon us ” — so runs 
the more esoteric talk of everyday, “ we get no mwali and no 
h^i. Our hosts give them to the men of other places. But 
if he turns around, fronts us and laughs, our canoes sink 
beneath the weight of mwali and iagt. Long ago our fore- 
fathers abandoned him on Gabuwana.” It is this effect of 
turning Kasabwaibwaileta’s back around that the incantation 
has for its object. This object secured, there follows the 
second charm of the ritual washing with self-striking of 
lamalama leaves upon the body of the ritualist. 

* Scaevola fructuscens (Konigi Vahl). 

* See conclusion of the Kasabwaibwaileta legend. 

230 Economics 

Dawn over woodlark island, the sun casting off its coating of night, 
your breaking forth from covering as the sun breaking forth from darkness, 
my breaking forth from covering as the sun breaking forth from darkness, 
your fine skin breaking forth from the evil peeling from your body, 
my fine skin breaking forth from the evil peeling from my body . 
my skin is that of a man of rank. 

long bagi 

bagi closed and kept long in the bound up basket. 

Your fine skin breaking forth from the evil peeling from your body, 
my fine skin breaking forth from the evil peeling 
from my body 
from my hip 

from the skin of my skull 
peeling off 

to my feet it descends 
I hurl it from me, 
to the tips of my hand it descends 
I hurl it from me. 

“ You must know ” said my toni-viaga, giving me the charm 
alone in the bush (lest others overhear and steal it), “ that it 
is Kasabwaibwaileta that doffs his skin.” “ And you how ? ” 

I said. “ That is the speech of ritual merely.” Nevertheless, 
the charm is believed to make the charmer beautiful and 
attractive and irresistible to his partner. 

The third charm of the ceremonial bathing may be ab- 
breviated. It introduces a new mythological person, Tauwau 
in place of Kasabwaibwaileta ; Tauwau and the charmer bathe 
and produce thunder with their footsteps in well alternated 
lines, then the charm goes on to boast that the anointing 
is rightly done, the charmer’s words too persuasive for refusal, 
and the effect of the charmer on the susceptibilities of his 
partner with his wife and child sitting, awaiting him, on the 
house platform, is pictured as overwhelming. Tauwau is 
a mythological person of recent extraction, being the maker 
of all the white man’s artcrafts in one capacity, the being 
responsible for leaving a pair of subordinate beings to spread 
white man’s diseases in another, and originally a native of 
Tewara who made the kula, but had a feud with Kasabwai- 
bwaileta and left Tewara for the white man’s country in a third 
capacity. One may presume that it is in the first and third 
capacity only that he is named in the final incantation, and that 
he is an accretion to the charm. 

These three formulae are done privately, each man going 
a different way. The last lamalama leaves are thrown away, 
a fresh pubic leaf is donned, and painting the face and 
anointing the body with coco-nut oil is carried forward. The 
canoes pull in leisurely to their destination, the crews dis- 
embark, and go to their partners. 

The Ritual of the Kula 231 

It is firmly believed that thunder and rain are produced 
by the arrival of an overseas canoe. Such atmospheric in- 
dications are called kaniana ; hence the reference to footsteps 
of thunder in the final charm. 

This ritual performance with its prohibitions on dancing, 
singing, yodelling, or telling of legends, with its preliminary 
halt to secure isolation from profane events, and with the special 
tunaseana incantation when the preliminary halt is whittled 
down to an afternoon instead of the full afternoon and night 
of solemn isolation, is thus very largely a declaration of 
anticipated results in an esoteric speech ; but most importantly 
it is a speech of power over a spiritual being, Kasabwaibwaileta, 
on the influencing of whom success depends. Of the class 
of beings kasa sona, Kasabwaibwaileta is one ; and the ritual 
is primarily an appeal to him, and a mystical sharing of the 
ritualist in his legendary vouched-for power of overcoming 
a bad appearance and making himself irresistible to his kula 
partner by his beauty of appearance. The ritual is felt as a 
mystery by the native. It is removed from the profane and 
it bears some of the typical marks of the sacred. 

Without this ritual performance a native believes that 
he will not be able to induce his partner to give him a kula 
valuable, for which, according to native fairness in the exchange 
of presents, a due return will be made later. Such is the 
dogma that gives the ritual its importance. 

It is very difficult to discover who knows the ritual and 
who does not. One man does not mention another’s ignorance 
at peril of feud possibly ending in fatality to one or the other. 
Nevertheless, I ascertained of five older men in my village 
that three knew the three ritual charms of the ceremonial bathing, 
two did not. One of those who did not know the charms was 
given away by his son, my personal cook-boy. The boy 
pretended to have learned the bathing charms, the final charms 
of the overseas expedition, but to have forgotten them in part. 
Would I repeat them so that his memory’ might be refreshed. 
I agreed that I would if he could first substantiate his statement 
by repeating a line or even less. He could not. From this 
ruse it followed that his father, Yogalu, did not know the 
charms, for I knew he denied no ritual to his son — and the 
boy would never have run the gauntlet of asking me for them 
rather than his father. The three men who did know the 
charms were brothers, one of whom taught me them, assured 
me of his brothers’ knowledge, and of the ignorance of 

232 Economics 

the fifth man. The same three brothers did not have 
knowledge of any tabus or sorcery in common. Their tabus 
were different, obtained from different of their mother’s 
brothers separately. Only one inherited any garden magic ; 
he sold some of the garden charms to the wife of one of his 
brothers and was paid a tenth of her next harvest for it “to 
make the charm pointed ”, i.e. powerful. The three had the 
important kula charms in common, however, an unusual 
community of magic between brothers. The three were 
together in the knowledge with their cross-cousin, instead 
of one brother alone possessing magic in common with his 
cross-cousin — the normal distribution for most magic. 

It is significant that, as I saw for myself on the expeditions, 
of these five older men of the village, the three brothers who 
knew the ritual also ran the most important exchanges. They 
had more partners and handled more valuable ornaments 
in exchange than the two other men who were ignorant of 
the magic. The magic is believed to be necessary to success. 
Success is largely a matter of self confidence and poise in 
wooing an overseas partner with assurance and in demanding 
the best against other competitors, who also seek the best, 
and who continually attempt to make new partners if other 
men than their old partners have better ornaments in their 
possession than their old partners have. Knowing the magic 
actually does seem to help considerably — not knowing it seems 
to detract from a person’s chances. The belief in the potency 
and necessity of magical knowledge appears in the kula to 
to create its own reality, at least in some measure. 

If we may permit ourselves a flight of fancy and in 
imagination plunge our own society into a Dobuan atmos- 
phere, the facts are as if the most profitable business under- 
takings amongst ourselves were reserved exclusively for those 
families that knew the mumbo-jumbo that secured the assistance 
of Dives, while those that knew but a small part of the mumbo- 
jumbo did not dare to engage in other than the less profitable 
class of business undertakings ; and this state of affairs were 
caused by a firm and solid dogma that the return which it was 
possible to secure was dependent on the control exerted over 
Dives, and upon nothing else, since ordinary qualities are 
common to everyone. We must allow, however, for the 
discordant fact that the passage of native wealth is notably 
different from our own in the conception that it is gained by 
beauty of person, so that Dives in his true capacity must be 

The Ritual of the Kula 233 

also the god of male personal beauty, and not have the ambiguous 
standing that private appreciation and ritual damnation place 
him in amongst ourselves. It is clear, I trust, that this belief 
would so establish a status, separate the leaders from the 
led without any ups and downs due to non-traditional traits, 
and enable wealth that cannot go all around equally to be 
distributed unequally by inducing an inferiority feeling in 
the unfortunates who do not know the mumbo-jumbo that is 
so effective over Dives. We should, however, have to believe 
firmly in Dives and very firmly in incantations. Calling 
the spells mumbo-jumbo, for example, would be Bolshevism. 

I do not vnsh to pretend that the status of the five older 
men I knew best, is typical of all Dobu. Generally it is 
true that the magical leaders are the social leaders in everything. 
But there are many outsiders too, who are contemptuous, 
or pretend to be so, of all charms they do not know, who believe 
in the substitutes they have picked up, ivho refuse to acknow- 
ledge any inferiority, and who “ try out ” a substitute magic 
of some kind that is only a vestige of the full traditional magic. 
As everywhere, there are conformists and non-conformists 
by temperament ; and Dobu is the last place in the world where 
strict conformity might be expected. 

It is interesting to note how the native explains the truly 
great faith of his overseas partner in him in giving him an 
ornament of the greatest value on credit, subject to repayment 
by an ornament of equivalent value and of the other variety 
some months later, as due to magic analogous to love magic 
which he exercises over his partner. It is true enough that 
it takes love to prevail against the native atmosphere of 
bad dealing with strangers, it takes love to endure wabuzvabu 
without fearing it for ever in the future. As St. Paul put 
it, “ love suffereth long and is kind.” The native theory 
is not bad ; but it is the love of exchanging valuables, the 
love of exchange carried on in an extreme state of exchange 
intoxication, and not really a personal love tow'ards a kula 
partner dandy such as the kula magic invokes, which is the force 
at work in this great and widely ramifying institution. 


1. Bomana is a term inflected with pronominal suffixes of possession. Thus 
homana, his sacred prohibition to secure magical power or the sacred 
prohibition, etc., but, homagu, my sacred prohibition ; bomama, our sacred 
prohibition. It is a tabu to secure power of a ma^cal nature. It is probably 
the word mana in a modified form, combining as it does the concepts of tabu 
and power secured thereby. 

234 Economics 

2. To turn to the comparisons that have been instituted between the 
potlatch and the kula : it will be apparent that wabuwabu is sharp practice 
unlike anything recorded of the potlatch. Sometimes I believe that to^uwabu 
leads to actual non-payment of credits received. At least, when I went to 
Sanaroa to the south I was introduced to a prominent native, who had a large 
necklace believed to be free for him to give to me if he liked me, and liked the 
prospect of getting my very fine armshell which 1 had in Tewara (having 
obtained it some time before from the Trobriands), in exchange. My Tewara 
friends helped me with all their might to open up an exchange with this 
Sanaroa native policeman. He behaved so politely with a veneer of mission 
acquired courtesy that I was amazed to find a Dobuan behaving so remarkably 
like a Polynesian. He had a fowl slain and gave it me, although, as is the custom 
in an inter-Dobuan kula exchange, I gave no propitiatory gifts — only the 
promise of an exchange (and some small gift when later he visited me at home 
in my place as an understood thing that is never mentioned). He did not give 
me the necklace. He meditated over it all day. Then he announced that an 
Amphlett partner of his had played badly by him. This Amphlett man owed 
him an armshell long overdue, long unpaid. So long overdue was it that he 
intended to drop the man altogether in future. But while he had a valuable 
necklace in his possession he wanted to keep it for some months as a bait. 
Perhaps the hope of acquiring it would lure his absconding debtor into paying 
the debt, as nothing else could. Not that if the debt were paid the absconding 
one would realize his hope. Never again would he be given a second chance 
to abscond. He would give me the necklace, but only later on if I came for it 
again. As earnest of good faith, he gave me a minor valuable of the kula, a 
sapisapi shell belt, a ceremonial valuable that is inferior to armshell or necklace, 
as bast. Bast is a preliminary gift which obliges one to wait for a later gift 
of a superior valuable, and to hold one’s own valuable in reserve against what 
is yet to come. My accepting bast meant that later I would get a necklace which 
again would precede my giving my armshell in return for it, together with an 
inferior vduable such as ceremonial greenstone axe blade in return for my bast. 

.A.t this aimouncement the evening ended in the best Dobuan manner. 
The moment the Sanaroa policeman had thrown down the sapisapi belt as 
basi and ceased speaking his speech of decision, a Tewara man took up the 
basi gift. My Tewara friends seated beside me on the Sanaroa man’s house 
platform rose and said quietly, but urgently, “ Come away.” We all arose, and 
stalked away in injured pride, I somewhat amused but acting my part — no 
farewell greeting, and no more commerce with the Sanaroa policeman, though 
someone had the basi gift. 

The unfortunate Sanaroa policeman, amazed at his fellow Dobuans taking 
a white man’s part so viciously against him, followed in our wake. He poured 
out long streams of sentences to Alo’s back, w’hich was rearmost, Alo 
answering everything in an occasional sarcastically toned reply of “ O ” (yes). 
The Sanaroa man got nothing more than a rare and brief “ O ” to his voluble 
expostulations all the way to the seashore. When we arrived there everyone 
sat about, cutting him dead, no one would speak to him, he stood forlorn and 
finally went back home without farewell or any rapprochement whatever. 
Everyone remained vicious for some time. 

At a later date his basi gift was returned to him by a canoe going from Tewara 
to Sanaroa on other business than the kula. 

It appears that credit in the kula is sometimes damaged by worse sharp 
practice than the tcabuwabu even. This was my impression of it. I only had 
two liu/a trips, one north and one south, in which I had experience of the kula 
as a participant. But I think that if I had carried it on over a long period as a 
participant I would have discovered much more of this type of situation that 
I found in Sanaroa. No Tewara man pretended that such hold-ups were rare. 
But natmally no man would recount his own misadventures. Pride is too 
centred in kula success for a native to recount such a story of himself as I have 
told of myself. And were I a native, and a man seeking to make an enemy of 
me asked me what had happened to my kula with the policeman of Sanaroa, 
even many years afterwards, then I w’ould recognize an insult that was a 
deliberate chafienge to the utmost. This pride, how-ever, is not as the pride of 
^0 potlatch giver. Far from it. It is based on great having, not on generous 
giving. All giving is for equal return, and all fallen pride and shame is for loss 
of equal return. 

Chapter VI 

Native Theory of Sex 

Without a love charm to arouse and create desire, desire 
does not exist according to the native theory. Men and women 
mate only because men are constantly exerting magical power 
over women, and women over men. If a youth’s steps lead 
to a strange house at night where from inside an invitation 
on a Jew’s harp or a bamboo flute is playing, and the youth 
does not know who the girl is or what her appearance may 
be, nevertheless she has seen him and used magic upon him. 
Why else would his inclination go out to the unknown stranger ? 
Even when, as more often, the identity of the girl of the house 
approached is known, it is her magic on the youth or his on 
her that allows desire its way. 

I do not know many love charms. There are many, but 
I encountered great difficulty in acquiring knowledge. The 
Dobuans are almost pathologically jealous. The men be- 
lieved that I had no seductive qualities for their women as 
long as I knew no love magic. A man without love magic 
is not a real man, only half a man. Because of their jealousy, 
and of their disapproval of mixed blood unions and of mixed 
blood children, they were determined to keep me without 
love magic. Their determination was the stronger because 
the women were jealous of the fact that the men were my 
informants, and that the male sex only profited from my 
inquiries. One night and one night only, the w'omen in 
a body induced the men to get out, and my hut was filled 
with women all anxious to give information and acquire 
tobacco. Three or four times Kadi, Alo’s daughter, seized 
a chance when no men were about, to slip into my hut and 
tell me gossip. She could not do so under Alo’s eye, or when 
Kinosi, my personal boy, was about as one of the two w'as 
usually. Kinosi had married her and divorced her for infidelity. 
The two practised complete avoidance. Once Kadi, young 
and divorced, and Nela, Kinosi’s elder married half-sister, 
came in when the village was otherwise deserted. On these 


236 Sex 

occasions the situation felt very electrically charged, as such 
furtive visiting would have led to furious quarrels if it had 
been detected ; no Dobuan woman makes such visit normally 
except on sex intent. No Dobuan man would not take ad- 
vantage of it. In my case, the women were expressing a feminine 
protest against masculine monopoly in giving information, 
but they were very tense in doing it, and only Kadi and Nela 
succeeding in finding about four opportunities in as many 
months. The old women came more freely with the men 
on occasion. 

Towards the end of my stay I succeeded in acquiring one 
love charm. It is called Kaviaganutu. The forlorn lover lies 
under his mat the last thing at night with a glowing fire stick 
in one hand and an unlighted stick in the other. He rubs 
the tips of the two together, sending down a shower of sparks 
and intoning as he does so : 

I knock 
I knock 
my spirit 
my double 
your go forth 

(names the loved one) 
you lie with her 
you return, 
our sleeping mat 
we shall lie upon 
at midnight 

do I see rightly, or I err 
your spirit 
your double. 

your mind is shaken for me. 
you wail for me in the dusk 
you wail for me at the dawn, 
wanoge, the woman wanoge 
at midnight 
rising and sitting erect 
my wailing, 
for me you are wailing, 
where is a resting place for your rest ? 

where is food for your eating ? 
where is a sleeping place for your slumber ? 
for me you are loath to go forth in the 

to the garden or shell fishing, 
for me your wistful smacking of lips. 

I sleep alone 
I sleep with my wife. 

I mourn for you, 
sighing for you, 
my wife. 

At dawn when the sleeper wakes he hurls his mat from 
him with a loud shout “wekani!” The absent beloved is 
believed to start convulsively at this moment and to come. 

Native Theory of Sex 237 

The incantation calls upon a being kasa sona, Wanoge. Her 
name is most secret, her legend not known. 

The charm is used not only in love affairs, but in recalling 
an absentee who has left a place for a time. I left Tewara 
to go to Bwaidoga at Christmas, ’27, and it came out when 
I returned that the charm had been directed at me by the 
head-man. He secured my boots and a comb of mine to 
breathe the charm into. As usual the children did not keep 
the secret. 

Other love creating ritual is connected with Koiwaga. 
By one account Koiwaga is a tree near Bwebweso, the home 
of the spirits of the dead. Its sap is potent as a love charm 
when placed on the body. It is fine scented. There is said 
to be one tree only — and it is not a tree as the trees of the 
bush — but a woman. Long ago she changed her form into 
a tree, to the help of all men since. In my notes I find record 
of a short conversation : “ Why do you not take its seed and 
plant it here ? Bwebweso mountain is very far away.” 

“ How ? As if it were a tree of the forest ? It is a woman.” 
The tree’s sap is the woman weeping for her lover who, in his 
hardness of heart, changed her from her human form into 
the form of a tree. There are various talismans said to be 
taken from this tree, but, I think, no more authentic than the 
wood of the Cross on which Christ was crucified still obtainable 
by pilgrims to the Holy Land. 

By another account Koiwaga is a magical waterfall on 
Bwebweso mountain, the bereft woman having been trans- 
formed into a weeping water trickle. It is certain that much 
love magic derives from the Koiwaga beliefs. 

Other love-creating magic again employs the lamalama 
leaves {scaevola konigii vahl or fructuscens) that are used also 
to influence a kula partner. In the love ritual, unlike the use 
in the kula, each leaf is divided down the mid-rib to symbolize 
unity in division. The charmed leaves are placed beneath 
the magic-maker’s head as he or she sleeps. In all love-magic 
the spirit of the magician is exhorted to go forth in the night 
to influence the spirit of the beloved one. We saw this in 
Kawaganutu. In Koiwaga the association of the being kasa 
sona with Bwebweso expresses a like spiritual significance. 
The use of the charmed lamalama leaves under the head of the 
sleeping charmer is associated with the same concept. An old 
Dobuan dance song expresses the appropriateness of lamalama 
leaves and spirit influence. 



Woman of the North-East Wind 
Charging them on their way 
“ Spirits you behave yourselves 
You behave, behave yourselves.” 

The lamalama leaves I pluck. 

The maidens of Mumugwa 
As they sit sigh desire for me, 

“ Spirits, you behave yourselves.” 

Here Woman of the North-East Wind, guardian of the 
portals of the home of the spirits of the dead, is portrayed as 
warning the spirits to be good as they enter Bwebweso. One 
spirit plucks lamalama to use love magic on the living maidens 
of Mumugwa, a real village near Bwebweso. 

Love-creating magic has a clearer purely spiritual alliance 
than any magic in Dobu. It is in truth a far more spiritual 
technique than that of the black art for example, and this 
fact is expressed in its content, its alliance with thought of 
Bwebweso. Just as the lover magician can send forth his 
spirit to his loved one during his sleep, so also some magicians 
can send forth their spirit to enter Bwebweso and hold converse 
with the spirits of the dead w'hile the magician sleeps. 

In practice, however, love magic like black magic 
must be “ tried out ” competitively on its acquisition. It is 
no great trial to try it on a disengaged maiden. It should 
be tried to test it against the love magic of other men. Hence, 
the proof of love magic lies in the success of attempted 
seduction ; where another man’s love magic has obtained 
him a wife there is a good field for experimenting with the 
strength of one’s own differently derived magic. “ Try it 
out ” is always the first and the last word that must be said 
of Dobuan magic. The ladder of social ambition is that of 
successful magic. 


Native Theory of Procre.ation 

There is no ignorance of the part played by the male in 
procreation in Dobu. Semen is believed to be voided coco-nut 
rnilk which has passed through the body of the male, and is 
ejected at the point of orgasm. This voided coco-nut milk 
semen is believed to fertilize the woman, causing the blood 
within her, which when unfertilized comes away in monthly 
menstrual flow, to coagulate and form the foetus. A man 
drinking coco-nut milk to make himself potent is liable to have 
obscene jests made at the expense of his action. ** My coco- 
nut milk ” is the term meaning “ my bastard child ”. 

Native Theory of Procreation 239 

The Dobuans know the Trobriand belief that procreation 
is from the reincarnation of spirits of the dead, not from the 
biological father. They say bluntly that the Trobrianders 
lie. The subject is not brought up between Trobrianders 
and Dobuans as it has been the subject of anger and quarrel 
too often in the past. My Dobuan friends warned me not 
to mention the matter in the Trobriands before I went there. 
Once I was there I deliberately made the experiment. The 
Trobrianders asserted the spiritual belief, just as Dr. Malinowski 
has published it. But the head of every Dobuan in the room 
in which I brought the matter up, immediately was turned 
away from me towards the wall. They affected not to hear 
the conversation ; but afterwards when they had me alone 
they were furious with me. 

With the exception of the part played by the seminal fluid. 
Dr. Malinowski’s rendering of the Trobriand ideas on the 
physiology of sex applies also to the Dobuan state of knowledge. 

It may be noted that in Dobu as in the Trobriands there 
is complete freedom for sex intercourse before marriage, and 
this freedom is used freely. Nevertheless, unmarried girls 
rarely bear bastards. In the community I know well enough 
to be certain of my facts, one child in about twelve in all was 
a bastard. This is partly related to the fact that a pregnant 
girl may become married before child-birth. Furthermore, 
means of securing abortion are effective, and are in general 
practice both by the married and by the unmarried. For 
a girl to bear a child out of wedlock is a great disgrace, easily 
as great a disgrace as it was amongst ourselves in Mid-Victorian 
days or in old Puritan New England. It may be true that 
conception is less frequent where a girl has many different 
lovers and mixes them freely and frequently. Nevertheless, 
sometimes the unmarried girls of Dobu become pregnant ; 
I was told of definite cases. In these cases abortion is resorted 
to. One of the abortifacients is the dried root of the 
ketomatasekera tree (“ entering-eye-squirting ” tree). From 
this tree I preserved dried specimens which were identified 
by Kew Botanical Gardens as Excoecaria Agallocha. This 
tree is called River Poison Tree in Southern Asia. It is feared 
by wood cutters in Malaysia, in Cambodia, and in Southern 
India because if the tree is cut the sap is liable to squirt into 
the eyes of the wood cutter and blind them permanently. 
Hence come the botanical term Excoecaria, and also the Dobuan 
term “ entering-eye-squirting ” tree. The sap of Excoecaria 


240 Sex 

is known to be a poison in Dobu. I was warned from snapping 
off a branch as I once made to do unwittingly, the warning 
coming from Alo. For use as an abortifacient a section of the 
root of this tree about eight or nine inches long, is smoked 
over the fire until it is shrivelled to about a two-inch length. 

It is then chewed and eaten. It is said to be a good aborti- 
facient without any conspicuous weakening effect upon the 
woman. P'or using it once. Kadi, Alo’s daughter, was severely 
beaten about the body with a club by her mother’s brother, 
Kopu. A man feels that he has a right to a male heir from 
the womb of his sister’s daughter. His right is socially 
recognized, and may be corporally enforced. 

There are also other abortifacients. One root I was initiated 
into the secret of by Kopu and his wife, Nela ; Nela chewed 
and swallowed its thick outer layer, chewed and threw away 
its inner core, under my inspection inside my hut in the presence 
of her mother and her husband. At the time of chewing 
she was full breasted. Twenty-four hours later I noticed that 
she was absolutely flat breasted, her breasts like small flat 
plates. I called Kopu aside and commented on this. That 
is the way of its evil — always,” he said carelessly. Nela was 
not pregnant at the time. She had had one child which died. 
In all the rest of her ten or twelve years of married life she 
had secured abortion for all her pregnancies — I could not 
discover their number as I was on very ticklish ground. 
She chewed the root in my presence, since it is the custom to 
do so in giving a secret herb. The giver chews to show that 
the gift is no treacherous poison. The gift was for reward 
in this case. Unfortunately, my specimens of this plant were 
not identified. 

These roots are used to procure abortion without the 
use of any magical incantation. As in the case of the hudobudo 
poison {Cerbera Manghas or Odallam) they are believed to 
be naturally efficient. The idea of using magic with them is 

There is at present a very great decline in the population 
of Dobu. Taking away the young men as a labour force for 
the white man has depleted native garden resources and made 
life harder to support than ever. Added to this there is a 
great and prevalent discontent with the payment of tax and 
tithe. I have not the slightest doubt that the decline in 
population is in a large measure deliberate race suicide, and 
for pardonable and comprehensible reasons. A man does 

Dominant Sex Attitudes 241 

not flog his sister’s daughter for using an abortifacient as 
easily in the Missionised area as Kopu flogged Kadi in solitary 
non-missionised Tewara. The new white authority is under- 
mining the old native authority, and not reproducing its more 
intimate powers. 

It is recognized that pregnancy may follow directly from 
sex intercourse. It is also known that it does not necessarily 
follow. There is no special magic for creating it. It is 
customary to use the same magic as is used to make coco-nut 
and betel nut palms bear fruit, to secure human pregnancy. 
Children are not as greatly desired these days as they were 
in the old days when the need of keeping up the fighting strength 
of the village was urgent and imperative. The spells used 
to create pregnancy are the one isolated instance of magic 
directed towards an effect which it is recognized may occur 
also naturally. It may be noted that the Trobriand ignorance 
of naturalistic conception prevents such an anomaly in the 
general theory of magic as it exists in the Trobriands. Whether 
the spiritualistic theory of conception in the Trobriands is 
a buttress of magical practice such as the spiritualistic theories 
of creating love or sex desire, or wind, and so on, are buttresses 
of Dobuan magical practice is unfortunately not certain. The 
Dobuan faith in magic proves that it can put up with a 
theoretical anomaly with ease. 

And it will be clear that the Trobriand theory might have 
arisen with facility from a state of society such as exists in 
Dobu, particularly if rank were introduced in Dobu to make 
a legal conflict between susu and marital grouping more 
spectacular and its decision more widely known and accepted. 
The Trobriand turn of the wheel has not taken place in Dobu, 
however, whether from the kinship or from the magical 
direction of social pressure. 


Dominant Sex Attitudes 

Malinowski wrote that amongst natives w'here the position of 
women in societv was high they were unchaste, but to this rule 
the Dobuan Islanders were an exception. It may be noticed about 
this point that amongst some travellers’ stories there are reports 
that entire nations or tribes of women are red-haired and chaste. 



or long-nosed and unchaste. They all went to the same schools 
and learned the same lessons and they all made the same state- 
ments. The child was mother to the woman. The positions of 
children, adolescents and women in society were identical. 
Mothers who allowed their sons of eight, nine or ten years of age 
to sleep in the homes of other mothers with daughters of the same 
tender age flung themselves and their elder daughters into the 
arms of sailors whenever an outrigger canoe, a merchant ship or a 
naval vessel came into land. 

Amongst Papuans there were tribes in which parents allowed 
children to go to sleep in the homes of other children’s parents at 
an age when they were naturally unreproductive. There were 
also some tribes in which amorous parties for adolescents were 
arranged once a yam crop season, a time which might sometimes 
approximate to a year. There are some missionaries’ stories that 
Pacific Islanders were free from all restraints in the enjoyment of 
the sexual passions, and Bougainville and his ship’s doctor once 
brought a passionate story to France that the only god or goddess 
worshipped in Tahiti was Venus. In his introduction to this 
book, Malinowski writes that he is corrected in it on an important 
point, as it is shown in it that Dobuan women are unchaste. He 
explains that Dobuan Island youths who worked for him as his 
domestic servants in the Trobriand Islands told him in reply to his 
enquiries on the topic that Dobuan women were chaste. He 
explains again that Trobriand Islanders, having never obtained 
any favours from Dobuan women, had accused them of “ that 
unpleasant characteristic ”, chastity, in a wholesale manner. 

On considering Malinowski’s view we may note that such a one 
as those who accused Dobuan women of unpleasant chastity was 
probably one of the schooner’s crew who landed up in Tewara 
Island in 1928 on a day when the men were away fishing on the 
reef for the palolo annelid. As we have said, we were never told 
the story, but we think that such a one probably seduced Kadib- 
weara, whose marriage to Kinosi was arranged, and that our 
discussion of their divorce lacked the story. There is some men- 
tion of some antagonism shown towards us in our first month in 
Tewara Island in this book, which was written without as good a 
surmise of the reason for it as that which we make now, thirty 
years later, for a second edition. Our purpose in landing in 
Tewara Island was not to investigate a question whether the island 
women were chaste or not. The largest Dobuan island is Nor- 
manby Island, but we did not go there. Our purpose was not to 
investigate a question of how many persons spoke the same 

Dominant Sex Attitudes 243 

langu^e. We went from Tewara Island to the adjoining coast 
of north-east Fergusson Island, an island where we found that 
five to six languages were spoken. The topic of purpose has some 
importance and it is highly relevant to the interpretation of con- 
clusions reached. 

Some of the previous section of this chapter was written with 
reference to some of Malinowski’s notions of fact at a date before 
his theory of the reduction of sociology to terms of psychological 
behaviourism was written, and before Roheim’s discussion of Egg 
Laying Day in the Dobuan Islands (“ Tauhau and the Mwadare ”, 
International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 1932) was published. 
Amorous parties for adolescents in the Trobriand Islands were 
once arranged on an evening of a feast day in Milamala, the Palolo 
worm or All Souls Moon in which the marine worm, Leodice 
viridis. Class Polychaetae, Phylum annelida, swarmed to reproduce 
on the surface of the sea, and in which the Trobriand Islanders 
believed that the ghosts of ancestors of the matrilineages returned 
to their villages. In the Dobuan Islands similar parties were once 
arranged on a similar feast day called Egg Laying Day. The 
Dobuan name for the feast day referred to yams, called eggs in this 
context by metaphor, grown in clones by assexual plant reproduc- 
tion and given as gifts to relatives by marriage in exchange for gifts 
of shell currency from them. It was on such days in the moon of 
the reproduction of the Palolo worm in the Trobriand Islands that 
yams were also given as gifts to affines in exchange for gifts 
of shell currency. From Malinowski’s and Roheim’s works it is 
clear that it was on such days that it was considered that beha- 
viourism in social psychology and in social anthropology in the 
Trobriand Islands and psychoanalysis in the same subjects in the 
Dobuan Islands had come into their own. Adolescents did not 
bear many love children in the sequence to Egg Laying Day, either 
that, unlike the palolo in this respect, they were not all ovulating, 
or that many of them were married not long afterwards. Mali- 
nowski, however, made a mystery of this point. Roheim sug- 
gested that the yam storage house symbolized the womb and that 
the yams stored in it symbolized sperm. The yams were called 
eggs by the Dobuans in metaphor, and the yam storage house was 
called the skin of the mouth, but the former discrepancy was 
overlooked, and the latter was met with a mistranslation, as the 
opening to the body, not clearly definitive of the womb. 

Leodice viridis lives with its head end in clefts in coral reefs and 
with its hinder end out of the clefts. The hinder ends break off 
and swarm at the surface of the sea on the first day of the third 



quarter of an October or a November moon. The date by solar 
reckoning is variable within a range of thirty-five days in a cycle 
of nineteen years. If All Souls Moon in the Trobriand Islands 
were kept with precision, as Easter and Passover are in other 
ecclesiastical calendars that combine lunar and solar reckoning, it 
might coincide with the date of the swarming of the palolo, which 
is determined by the effect of moonlight and sunlight on the crea- 
ture. According to a chart of time reckoning published by 
Malinowski, different Trobriand Island districts are now keeping 
All Souls Moon at different solar dates, and it may incidentally be 
remarked about the dates that all of them are in advance of the 
earliest date at which the palolo swarms. Again it may inciden- 
tally be remarked that in his chart of time reckoning Malinowski 
equates thirteen synodic months or lunations, 383 days 21 hours, 
32 minutes, 3614 seconds, with a solar year minus 6 hours, 9 
minutes, 9 5 seconds. His view that tribes or nations all went to 
the same schools, learned the same lessons, made the same state- 
ments, spoke the same languages, and were chaste or unchaste, 
united or disunited in policy and the like is not one in which there 
is much sense discernible. Malinowski, however, is said to have 
studied the natural sciences in the University of Cracow under the 
Austrians. It is obvious from his calculations that something was 
not what it should have been. 

Darwin assumed that men and other mammals possessed 
naturally given, highly generalized but partly unlearned predis- 
positions or tendencies to parental care, mutual aid and sympathy 
and interest as well as pleasure in the society of others. It was an 
assumption about their nature, not that Darwin was a traveller 
whose histories of points which he studied were called into question 
on account of reliability. Darwin’s assumption about mammalian 
predispositions differs from behaviourists’ views in social an- 
thropology and in social psychology that physiological needs for 
food, water, a sexual mate, security, health and shelter motivate 
animal and human learning and behaviour. In general animal 
behaviour is not accounted for in terms of physiological needs and 
learning to satisfy them. Leodice viridis, for example, does not 
need to learn to calculate the dates in a calendar. Granted that 
the position of the mammals differs from that of the annelida in 
particulars, it need not be concluded that one story is as good as 

Amongst the Dobuan Islanders the term loiawe was used some- 
times to mean a custom by which parents allowed their young 
sons of eight, nine or ten years of age to go to sleep in the houses 

Dominant Sex Attitudes 245 

of others with young daughters of the same age. The custom was 
probably one of permitted pleasure and interest in the society of 
others. The term loiavie was used sometimes to mean the con- 
jugation of mature organisms, other than human beings, in the 
animal kingdom. There may, perhaps, be tribes or nations 
whose members all went to the same schools and spoke the one 
language and who are not remarkable for the chastity of their 
spoken languages. The Poles, Austrians, Germans, British, 
French, Russians, Italians, Americans and Dobuans have not been 
cited by anyone as being remarkable in that respect. The fact 
that they have not been cited as remarkable for chastity in speech 
is one of the few facts of restraint in views of them for which 
national and tribal characterologists might be commended, if it 
were known what they discussed. 

Malinowski’s discussion of his question whether women were 
chaste or not referred as much to children and to adolescents as it 
did to women. We noted that in his books he applied his ques- 
tion to the Dobuan Islanders, and we made a few enquiries 
whether the loiawe in its meaning of a custom was associated with 
conjugation or not. At that date and when we wrote this book 
we had not then heard the term loiawe used in its meaning of the 
conjugation of mature dogs, pigs, birds and insects. We received 
no replies about children that need be recorded in Latin ; but we 
understand that some of the missionaries assumed from an ab- 
sence of chastity in the language of the people that a discussion 
of the conduct of children to be complete should protect the writ- 
ten chastity of their mother tongue by being written in Latin. 
However that may be, if the Dobuans were amused at the natural 
inconsequence of their young offspring as far as reproduction was 
concerned, they were not amused if they had a daughter of thir- 
teen or fourteen or so years of age and if a strange youth of the 
same age was found in their house at dawn. In such a case they 
arranged a shot-gun marriage on the spot. Most marriages were 
arranged without such a provoking incident, and parents and senior 
kindred who arranged them and the youths who were married were 
not amused in cases in which their marriages did not last long. 

With reference to tall stories and denominational differences in 
them the Tewara Islanders advised us not to introduce the topic 
of the Trobriand Island legend that human conception was caused 
by the reincarnation of ancestral ghosts in the Trobriands. The 
occasion for this advice was one in which we were preparing to 
go with them by outrigger canoe or a kune or kula trading voyage 
to south Boyowa Island in the Trobriand group. They did not 

say that it was a taboo, but then they usually did not when it was. 
We concluded hastily that they had disagreed on the topic in the 
past. We thought no more of it, and in the Trobriands we dis- 
regarded their advice, and asked their Trobriand trade friends to 
narrate the legend which they did with pleasure. There had 
been a question whether Malinowski had been relating a tall 
story of his own invention about the entire topic, and we aimed to 
check some points about it. In his introduction Malinowski has 
it, apropos of that incident, that we taunted the Trobriand 
Islanders once again with ignoring physiological paternity, and 
that our Tewara Island canoe mates objected to our rudeness to 
their trade friends. That was not the case, as we did not taunt the 
Trobriand Islanders or offer them a discourtesy. We asked to hear 
the legend, as Malinowski understood, since there was a question 
whether he had told a misleading story about it or not. It trans- 
pires that the Trobriand Islanders ignored the human ova as well 
as the sperm, physiological maternity as well as physiological 
paternity, if ova and sperm must be called a special class of 
mothers and fathers. We do not take a view that they must be. 
The reference of Malinowski’s story about a taunting of the 
Trobriand Islanders in the first place is to an incident in which 
he related that a Greek trader taunted a Kitava Islander with 
ignoring whether the genitor of an infant by his wife was its 
pater, or another man, or an ancestral ghost of a former member 
of his wife’s lineage. In that story a wife’s unchastity was 
assumed. It transpires that there was something else to our 
Tewara Island canoe mates’ objection taken to our having asked 
to hear a Trobriand Island legend about human conception ; 
for, in reconsidering a question of what it was, we have noticed 
that they probably observed a taboo against relating any legends 
on any topic whatsoever and against asking to hear any related 
on voyages outward bound or in ports of call. The Trobriand 
Islanders may also have observed the same taboo and assisted one 
of their trading visitors to infringe it with pleasure, for all we know 
to the contrary. 

The story of depopulation in Dobu Island since 1891 may per- 
haps be due to gonococcus. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, as that of de- 
population in New Ireland is. Problems of over-population, 
under-population and depopulation and of denominational dif- 
ferences of opinion about them may possibly be headaches. If 
the New Ireland population had taken vows of poverty, obedience 
and chastity in their reception into Buddhist or Roman Catholic 
orders they might have stopped the spread of Neisseria gonor- 

Dominant Sex Attitudes 247 

rhoeae, but not prevented depopulation. There is a story by Sir 
William MacGregor in his Annual Report an British New Guinea 
for i 8 gs- 6 , that a Trobriand Island chief had a wide influence 
and that the Trobriand Islanders used thumping and not chemical 
means if they aimed to secure an abortion. There is controversy 
in Seligman, Leo Austen, Malinowski, Gluckman, Gunnison and 
Uberoi about Sir William MacGregor on the extent of the area 
of influence of a Trobriand Island chief before 1883. Malinow- 
ski repeated Sir William MacGregor on the topic of abortion 
without acknowledgement of the source. His story was that 
plants were waved as wands in magic and not taken internally as 
drugs, and that they were ineffective if they were taken internally. 
The point we wish to make here is that the story of depopulation 
in Dobu Island since 1891 may have nothing to do with discussions 
of Sir William MacGregor’s Annual Report on British New Guinea 
for i 8 g ^-6 in its references to the Trobriand Islands. It may 
have nothing to do with the use of plants, taken internally, as 
abortifacients. They may or may not be ineffective. One plant 
may perhaps be effective, and perhaps damaging, and one may 
perhaps be variable in its action and possibly harmless in its 
biological action. Whether this is so or not is not a question in 
the social sciences. 

Although the story of the plant drugs once used in these 
islands is still incomplete, it may be added to it that the bites of 
shell-fish are sometimes fatal in the area. The species of shell- 
fish which is dangerous is not yet identified and the mechanism 
of fatality from its bite is not identified. It may conceivably be 
one of anaphylactic shock to which some persons, previously 
bitten without fatal results, may be subject. In any event the 
Dobuans treat shell-fish bites by external treatment with a few 
drops of the sap of Excoecaria Agallocha, carefully dropped into 
the wound from a snapped-off twig. As it is a powerful vesicant 
it is not allowed to touch intact skin. In his work Malay Poisons 
and Charm Cures, Dr. J. M. Gimlette confirms that if this sap is 
taken internally it is fatal. He does not, however, agree with 
Dr. M. Greshoff, quoted above, that the sap from the branches 
of Cerbera odollam is not poisonous. His view is that there is 
a cardiac poison, a glucoside, thevetine, in the sap of Cerbera 
odollam. The plant drug mentioned above as not identified has 
been identified since the first edition was written. It is Aris- 
tolochia tagala, Cham, with which Aristolochia Megalophylla 
K. Schum, is probably a synonym. It contains aristolochic 
acid, an aromatic hydrocarbon, which when decarboxylated, is 

248 Sex 

1- methyoxy -5,6 - methylenedioxy - 9-nitro - phenanthrene. Some 
species of Aristolochia also contain aristolactone. The structure 
of the acid is 

and that of the lactone is 


Neither the acid nor the lactone is an analogue of a compound 
in the path for the building up of cholesterol from acetic acid in 
the mammalian body. 

We shall not discuss the topic of the motives of behaviour any 
further at this point, but revert to the text of the first edition in- 
stead, not rewriting Chapter IX but rewriting Appendix I, Dobu 
and Basima, instead. 

A man is allowed to maintain a joking relationship with his 
father’s sister and with his father’s sister’s daughter; but the jok- 
ing never approaches the bake in its direct physiological termi- 
nology. “ How and why should I give my tobacco to a grass 
skirt ” is the current type of joking reference that a man nor- 
mally uses to a woman who is his joking relative. Body-handling 
such a woman takes place only on rare festive occasions, and 
speech never touches her more intimately than a reference to her 
breasts or to her grass skirt such as is not permitted, mild as it 
is, to any woman other than a joking relative. There is nothing 
in Dobu of as fully fledged joking as the Trobriand “it is well 
that the nephew should lie with his father’s sister ’’, although the 
joking takes place between the same relatives in Dobu as in the 

Persons who have not ringworm skin object to mating with 
persons whose skins are disfigured with ringworm, and whose body 
odour is evil from ringworm. Ringworm is one of the great 
calamities of Dobuan life. It is impossible to say whether the 
dark skin or the light skin is most admired. Both exist in 

Dominant Sex Attitudes 249 

extreme forms and both are admired. Albinoidism is an even 
worse fate than ringworm. A man who runs amuck may have 
difficulty in finding a wife. And to close the list, old men do not 
marry with young women, or old women with young men. 
White men present the only cases of corpulence known to the 
natives. Corpulence is regarded with disgust. 

A case of a marriage for love despite the cost was that of 
Obediah. He married within the prohibited degree, his cross- 
cousin. In her place, his dead father’s place, he had to live on 
the outskirts of the village, unable to enter it. Worse still she 
had a very inadequate stock of seed yams and an inconspicuous 
garden. In marrying her Obediah was marrying hunger. His 
kin refused their sanction, warning him of inevitable hunger. He 
outraged his own kin, who refused to give public recognition to 
the marriage. He could not enter the village of his wife’s kin 
to speak to them, though he lived on the outskirts of their village 
for the beginning of his married life rather than with his own 
kin. He had only his wife, and she was an economic drag on 
him, and a source of real unmitigated hunger to gnaw him con- 
stantly. Yet he married her, and clave to her. One Sunday I 
know his kin fed Obediah, but with insult to accompany the food, 
such insult as is usually intolerable to a Dobuan native, insult 
directed against his wife and his marriage; and none the more 
tolerable in that it was merely true statement of fact. 

Chapter VII 

The Dobuans do not dance very often. The group that 
I lived amongst danced only for three nights in five months. 
There is no great dancing season at harvest time as in B^ima, 
Fergusson Island, Goodenough Island, and in the Trobriands. 

I was in Dobu Island for a month while harvesting the year s 
crop was going on — but there was no dancing. The village 
is not specialized for dancing. There is a central graveyard 
— ringed about by huts — no central dance plaza as in a 
Trobriand village. 

The Basima neighbours of Dobu on Fergusson Island 
are great dancers, for ever dancing. The dour Dobuans 
despise them — “ the root of laughter they ; and the men talk 
freely in public with the wives of their friends ”. 

There are some special dances for special events such 
as the dance with the skull of the dead, already referred to. 
At sagali, the culminating mourning feast, there is a special 
dance in which croton leaves are held quivering in the hands 
of the dancers. These two forms of dance I did not see. 

In the ordinary dance such as I saw at the end of sago 
working in preparation for the kula, and at the conclusion 
of a kula expedition to Sanaroa, and also, the same form of 
dance amongst the Basima people at harvest, the men form 
a circle, facing inwards, and stand beating their drums and 
singing a dance song. The women trip around the outside 
of the ring. Towards the conclusion of a dance the drum 
beats quicken, the women’s pace increases and one or two 
men break into the interior of the drum circle to time a con- 
clusion. There is a brief respite. Then the drummers take 
up a new song, a new dance. So the dance goes on usually 
all night long. 

The Basima form is very little different. The circle of 
drummers bend down to a squatting position, hissing at the 
conclusion of a dance. The Amphlett form is also very little 
different. There, when the drums quicken the time, the women 
cease tripping round the outside of the circle of men, but 
face in towards the inner circle and rise and fall to the rhythm. 


Dance and Song 251 

bending from the knees and swinging their arms. They keep 
the entire torso otherwise entirely still, and very statuesque 
they look. 

Such differences in form are minute, but it is very humorous 
to watch Dobuan men trying to imitate the Basima conclusion, 
or Dobuan women trying to imitate the statuesque Amphlett 
conclusion. They are hopeless at imitating it properly and 
can only give a burlesque. 

The interesting point is the dance song. Every Dobuan 
is a song-maker. Any interesting event calls forth a number 
of songs. There is very little imitation, very little use of poetic 
verbal counters. The form is more or less stereotyped as in 
our sonnet form ; and there is as much emphasis on originality 
of content and of words used for expression as in our own 
literary tradition. The song-maker is proud of his creation, 
proud of its originality, and he has rights to prevent others 
from using his song, at least for a while. The song-maker 
must give his permission before his song is used for the dance. 
Later on it may gain currency in far-away places, for the songs 
are sung everywhere, on canoes and about the land after they 
have been danced to. Many of the songs are love songs actually 
first used in love-making. Serenading is the normal preliminary 
step in wooing. 

ku eona he nuanaia tell her to bear in mind 

badilai gomtvagtvaia at badilai bay 

lawelawe ku eonai the beloved (married to another) tell her 

ku eona be nuanai tell her to bear in mind. 

'u eona be nuanaia tell her to bear in mind 

maide kalikalikebe with her serving companion 

kewa kevio i gelubi let him bring a canoe and embark 

i talakedekededama that we meet on the way 

lamelatue ’u eonai the beloved (married to another) tell her. 

The form of this song is fairly typical (I use letters to 

represent line units, not rhymes as in formal description of 

our own poetry) 





these first four lines making the kalena or “ root ” of the song. 
Then follows : 






252 Dance and Song 

these latter five lines making the stpaiana or “ tied on piece ” 
of the song. 

It may be noted how a, the first line of the “ root ”, is a coda 
which begins and ends the root and begins also the tied on 
piece. Once the coda is announced, both in the root and in 
the tied on piece, the lines proceed without repetition, each 
line striking off a new phrase until the last line of each part 
is due. Thus we have b c in the root, and d e f in the tied 
on piece. Then the tied on piece is closed with c, another 
line of the root than the line first used as a coda, a. It will 
be seen that this is a fairly sophisticated pattern. That is to 
say, its use demands a very good command of phrasing if the 
pattern is not to interfere with the attempt to say something 
and to express it well. 

It has often been said that the demands of rhythm or of 
symmetry in repeated phrase elements tend to reduce primitive 
poetry to nonsense phrases of the “ hey nonny, nonny ” type, 
so that probably most primitive poetry cannot be interpreted 
into English. It does not make sense in any language other 
than the non-symbolic, meaningless language of rhythm. 
Dobuan poetry is not primitive in this sense. It is certainly 
the poetry of a primitive people. But the Dobuan has learned 
to grapple with the problem. He has accomplished a solution 
of rhythmic demands, the demands of symmetry in repeated 
elements and the maintenance of the statement of an idea 
in simple everyday language. Every word in the above song 
is a simple everyday word. Only one word, gelu, to embark, 
is furbished up by the addition of a meaningless suffix, bi, 
which is probably suggested by the fact that the last word 
of the preceding line ends in be. With the word gelu so ex- 
tended the line “ kewa kewo i gelu-bi ” has exactly the same 
number of syllables as the other lines of the tied on piece 

maide kalikalikebe ” and “ lawelawe ’u eonai ”, and one 
syllable less than the other two lines ” ’u eona be nuanaia ” 
and i talekedekededama ’ . Notice also how the coda of the 
root is stripped of its final syllable when it ends the root. So : 

loKelazve ku eonai 

ku eona be nuatuii 

have exactly the same number of syllables, the same rhythmic 
stresses, and the same last syllable, nai, to both lines (ntiunai 
being clipped from nuanaia). 

In brief we ha\e a close regard to rhythm, formal pattern, 
assonance, and meaningful statement ; and all the distortion 

Dance and Song 


of language in the song is confined to adding one meaningless 
assonance syllable to one word. For the only other change, 
the clipping of nuanaia, to nuanai, is just such a clipping as 
is often done in everyday speech. 

The formal pattern is not absolutely stereotyped. The 
following song has a three-line root and a four-line tied on 
piece : 

bomatu kana numega 
gaura dobiitii doro 
bomatu kana numega 

from the cliff of the north-east 
the cave booms seawards 
from the cliff of the north-east. 

eiagu kenokeno 
kana kuia gisigis 
ya keno lonutcenaia 
bomatu kana mimega 

my sister-in-law sleeping 

his red hair 

I slept dreaming of it 

from the cliff of the north-east. 

Here we have the form : 








where a coda, a, is used for the opening and closing of the 
root and for the closing of the tied on piece. No assonance 
is used. There is no word clipping. There is no variation 
upon the words of everyday speech. The articulation between 
the root and the tied on piece is not obvious. It may be in- 
tended that the sound of the sea booming awakened the dreamer, 
or else that the woman of the song is thinking of her man of 
the red hair being abroad on a sea voyage. The coda, a, and 
line e have one syllable more than the other lines b, c and d, 
which agree in their number of syllables. The rhythmic element 
in the lines in this song, as in all of them, can only be indicated 
by the syllabic congruence of the lines. They have no unity 
in terms of feet as in our own poetry. Thus scansion is as 
follows : 

bomatu kana numega 
gaura dobutu doro 

eiagu kenokeno 
kana kuia gisigis 
ya keno lomneetuiia 

No unity by scansion exists. There is no concept of rhyme, 
only occasional assonance. 

254 Dance and Song 

We have considered two love songs. We may now turn 
to a song of a different type. It will be recalled that in the 
Dobuan, the term tabu means a charm of the black art 
efficacious in causing a disease or a disfigurement. 

bomatu i toatoa the east wind is blowing 

rmoagwa toaUanama fish hawk he swoops down hither 

waUawaleanama swoops, swoops down_ hither 

bomatu i toatoa the east wind is blowing 

segatu ’u kotebe don your red dance skirt 

susuio yagumaradi your young breasts come newly 

tabu i mudaUnma the tabu will rend them 

rmoaguia toaUanama fish hawk he swoops downward. 

The form is here : 



b modified 





It is a slight variation on the form of the first song cited. 
There are no abnormal word forms or clippings. Line h 
modified is a part of line b as first stated with re- duplication 
of the part retained — a frequent poetic technique in the Dobuan. 
There is one word in the song, yagumaradi, that I do not 
know elsewhere, but such negation of my knowledge is not 
necessarily significant although I speak Dobuan fluently. 
Unusual, or archaic or foreign words are freely used in many 
songs, although this song is the first to be cited that opens 
up such a possibility. 

The quality in this song cannot be very well appreciated 
at sight. More than half the native delight in it lies in the 
picture of the young girls out for the dance, their beautiful 
bodies anointed and glistening, and all clad in their spectacular 
and fine red dance skirts. The native appreciation of youth 
lies behind the song. Women who have borne children are 
said to have their beauty spoiled by child-bearing, even though 
to a European eye they are still beautiful. 

The contrasting blackness and gloom of all that pertains 
to the black art, the characteristic long-drawn out melancholy 
of mourning that most thoroughly pervades Oceanic life, 
must be appreciated emotionally before the contrasting elements 
of youthful dancing, brightness and gloomy resignation to 
evil that the song evokes, can be fully appreciated. There 

Dance and Song 


is one painting of a Tahitian woman by Gaugin that expresses 
something of this spirit. But neither the emotion of the song 
nor the emotion of a picture can be conveyed very well or 
adequately on paper. 

i lulu i lululaga he is singing, singing inland 

natuwa lekawaega from the straights of natuwa 

suau i lululaga black satin bird singing inland. 

’lologea i kviaia at kelologea one lies dead 

mwatebu goTttagweine mwatebu, the maiden 

keioabum ladiladi her mourning sweet sounding 

1 lulu i lululaga he is singing, singing inland 

suau i lululaga black satin bird singing inland. 

This song of mourning is in the form : 









The use of the I sound should be noted. Almost the entire 
song is pervaded with it. Only one line mwatebu gomagweine 
is without it. In the translation the s sound replaces it 

lulu is to sing 
lekavja is a sea strait 
ladiladi is sweet sounding 
but laga is inland. 

One word, kelologea, a place name, is clipped to 'lologea 
in the song. Lines a and b have one more syllable than lines 
c, d, e and /, which agree. There is no use of uncommon 
words, although the word ladiladi belongs to one Dobuan 
dialect only. In none of these songs has there been a single 
meaningless word. 

The emotional ending of this song again cannot be rendered. 
I have not listened to the song of the black satin bird myself 
as it was a bird very rare in the island in which I lived. But 
I have sat concealed in the bush, careful not to break in upon 
the mourner, doing nothing but listen to the musical cadences 
of mourning (not at death, when mourning is too real to be 
an art, but afterwards). Most truly Dobuan mourning is as 
fine as finest bird song. The simile of the song is not tenuous 
or unjust. 

It will be recalled that the wddower’s song is sung at the 
expiration of mourning when the widower is about to be 

Dance and Song 


parted finally from his children, who must remain in their 
dead mother’s place. Their father, on the contrary, must never 
again enter the place of his dead wife and of his living children. 

u gimi kenologuiai 

lie awake, lie awake and talk 
at the midnight hour 
first lie awake and talk 
lie awake, lie awake and talk. 

maiwortu kam gatu 
mwaniwara kubunaia 
tomwai i bwegabwegai 
u gimi kenologwai 

The form is : 

maiwortu your charcoal body covering 
by mwaniwara below 
dawn breaks from the night 
first lie awake and talk. 









Keno, meaning to lie, is used as a part of many compound 
words in ordinary speech. In this song it is used with logwai. 
Gwai means to talk. The prefix lo conveys the meaning of 
securing or of catching while one can — hence keno-lo-gwai, 
to lie securing an opportunity still for talking. 

In the last two lines of the sipwana, the tied on piece, an 
assonance is made between bwegai and logwai. There is also 
a fairly subtle reference. The following morning before the 
widower is led out of his dead wife’s village never to return, 
his body is washed from its black charcoal covering, anointed 
and adorned — hence “ dawn breaks from the night ” refers 
not only to the time of his departure, but also to the manner 
of it ; his black charcoal body covering is compared to the 
night. His shedding of his body charcoal would be referred 
to as oona i bwegabwegai, his body appears out from it, just 
as dawn appears out of night is tomwa i bwegabwegai. There 
is some reduplication of words in this song. Kenologwai is 
reduplicated in its first two parts. So is bwega. Dawn breaks 
is ordinarily tomwai i bwega merely. Bwega is not reduplicated 
as bwegabwega, as ordinarily it might be reduplicated, but 
as bwegabwegai. Thus an assonance is made with kenologwai 
and also with tomwai. Reduplication is used in ordinary 
speech to signify continuity, in the present or in the past, 
or the present passing over into the future. This is just what 
the song intends to convey. The reduplication is musical, 

Dance and Song 


but it is not a musical tour de force at the expense of meaning 
in this song. 

To one who has seen how the village bury their dead when 
death has stricken a child or a person still in his or her prime, 
how the entire village seems to lose its manhood and carry 
the dead to the grave as if they were cowering under a whipping, 
how afraid they are of the night in the nights that follow, and 
how finally they recover their equilibrium in a series of feasts, 
the song of the dance re-appearing when dancing is once more 
permitted at the final feast, sagali, carries some feeling with it. 
The spirit is pictured on its way to Bwebweso, the home of 
the dead. It is fete day in Dobu. 

btvebweso lagalaga I go hillwards to bwebweso 

dohwabu saliwina by dokwabu’s white sagusagu flower 

bnebweso lagalaga I go hillwards to bwebweso. 

saliwisaliuiina the white, white sagusagu flower 

saliteega ya mwera from the palm I have climbed 

ya keseasearu I look out upon the path behind me, 

dohu ya mtueroroi I mourn for dobu. 

The form is : 








This form is aberrant in that the tied on piece has not 
the coda. The feeling for expression of a statement has broken 
through the usual formal demands, and the lines of the sipwana 
move steadily towards a conclusion that carries its own sufficient 
sense of finality of statement. If the repetition of the coda 
in the root is poetically justifiable, as I think it is, there is 
not a word wasted. All the words are those of simple 
everyday speech. Every line has exactly the same number 
of syllables except the last line. This line is one syllable 
short, a technique that adds much to its convincing use as 
a closure. 

All the songs are not as simple to me as those quoted. 
I have cited for analysis only examples of songs that employ 
one or the other of the two dialects of Dobuan which I speak 
and understand. But there are four of five local dialects and 
there are many songs which contain a word or two which I have 
never heard used colloquially. They are in many cases 

258 Dance and Song 

colloquialisms of another dialect, in a few cases introduced 
words of another language used for rhythmical purposes ; 
and also in some cases they are archaic. The speed with 
which words may become archaic in Dobu is extraordinary. 
Old men use at least from three to five words in a hundred 
that young and middle-aged men never use. A few differences 
in vocabulary cling to the old invariably and universally, as 
Victorian manners in dress cling to a very few of the old amongst 
ourselves. So that if an invisible person is overheard using 
a certain term in Dobu the hearer may know immediately 
that the speaker is a grandfather. Certain terms indicate 
a local dialect and the place of the speaker ; and just as certainly 
other terms indicate age of the speaker within the one local 

I do not know all the dialects. Even less so do I know 
all the terms of the very old in the various differing dialects. 
Those who sing songs which contain archaic words, words 
in process of disuse but still retained by the aged of other 
dialects, usually know what the words mean, because they 
are interested in the meaning of dance songs ; but very 
frequently they cannot characterize the uncommon word as 
to its origin in place or in time. There are several possibilities 
always, and it requires more academic interest than the natives 
possess to unravel them. But it must be emphasized that 
the presence of such words, difficult to me, does not mean 
at all that the songs contain jingles, music for music’s sake. 
That they do not. My difficulty is only with one or two words 
in a song containing from fifteen to twenty words in all. 
I cannot place such a word. My native informant cannot 
place it ; nevertheless, they know that it has an exact connotation 
and they usually know exactly what that connotation is. With 
this explanation I pass to such songs, where for a word or 
two I may be utterly dependent on my informant’s rendering 
of a term obscure to me. There is no evidence to prove that 
such terms proper to other places are used by a song-maker 
m a place where the term is not colloquial. I only heard three 
or four songs coined by the people of my own place ; they 
kept entirely within the limits of their own dialect and age 
generation usage of terms. It is probable that the songs com 
taming an element or two foreign to me are of foreign origin 
for dance songs spread all over Dobu. The differences between 
the dialects are not sufficiently great to cause more than 
sporadic non-comprehension of occasional terms. 

Dance and Song 259 

kana ktvadima panamoti o star of panamoti 

kebuaga i oUole the south night -wind ascends 

panamoti kana kteatUma. o star of panamoti. 

btvaruada ya tolatane at bwaruada I disembark 

ktvadima egueguguia star peering in the cooking pot 

i saisai oleole he rises and ascends 

panamoti kana ktcadima. star of panamoti. 

The form is : 







The words tolatane and egweguguia are not colloquial in 
my dialect. 

The song records a canoe voyage to Panamoti in the east. 
Star of Panamoti is Venus, the evening star. 

damasi btukhudi the deep sea palolo 

kasa butu yoyoi the village shakes from our running 

butu yoyaimua. shakes from our running thither. 

da geba doroebe look there seawards 

nabudibudUga from their deep sea place 

nudna lauiauolu with yellow sunset glow. 

kata butu yoyoi. the village shakes from our nmning. 

The form is : 



b modified. 





yoyoi and da geba are terms not colloquial to me. 

The palolo worms come once a year on to the reef about the 
time of the change of the monsoon, “ the palolo rule over the 
south-east monsoon ; we take them from the reef, we cook 
and eat them ; next morning, dead calm ; then the north-west 
monsoon comes.” The palolo come in early November. 
It is a great day to the natives as the palolo is good eating, 
and signals the end of the south-east cool season which is 
generally disliked. The palolo correspond to our first spring 
flowers symbolically. For while the white man enjoys the 
cool season the native will describe it as wintry, a bad time 
and a time for huddling over the fire. 

26 o 

Dance and Song 

The following song is addressed by a Dobuan wooer to 
a woman of the Mountain, i.e. to a Basima woman. The 
Basima tongue differs characteristically from the Dobuan 
in that it is pronounced with a constant rising and falling 
inflection which is absolutely regular, a phrase rising, a phrase 
falling, and so repeated indefinitely : 

kenagumo i wanea my speech goes to your house floor 

mttkviai do gwali mumu your flute you breathe to singing 

do gtvaligwali mumu you breathe to singing, singing, 

ya bwaubtuau toanea. I cry unto your house floor. 

koiyakoiya kenatuna the speech of the mountain 

t mtoag^uiaga i guma refreshes like wind rising and falling 

mukmd do gviali mumu your flute you breathe to singing 

kenagu i oianea. my speech goes to your house floor. 

The comparison of the rising and falling inflection of the 
speech of the Mountain to refreshing gusts of cool wind coming 
and going is a deftly turned compliment, and a fair simile. 

The line i mwagamwaga i guma is not colloquial to me. 
Wanea is a Basima word. So also in the construction that 
uses mumu I suspect. This song is, I think, a bastard com- 
bination of Dobuan and Basima constructions, predominantly 
Dobuan. It is addressed by a Dobuan to a Basima woman. 
It is a compliment to her and to her language, and a few words 
of the “ speech of the mountain ” are inserted consonantly. 
The form is : 



b modified 
a modified 





tiAe gibv)ogebv)obwoi swim in close formation 

sticabu i damanda siwabu is sunken 

tea da tube gibzoobtooi. you swim in close formation. 

bzcebzvesala ina saru the bird bwebwesala’s island 

ta enaienauda we ask of one another 

tea da tube gtlneobmot you swim in close formation. 

This song is in the form : 



a modified 



a modified 

It is a song that was made during my stay by Alo. His 
canoe, Siwabu, was beached one night on a coral outcrop. 
Whilst all were sleeping the canoe floated off undetected. The 

Dance and Song 261 

flying witches had laid deep sleep upon all, then floated the 
canoe off. Such was every man’s immediate thought once 
the loss was discovered. It was still night, but the men swam 
off searching. At first they swam in different ways. Then 
as they became frightened one sang out ; “ Let us swim all close 
together — the witches are at work.” They swam to a neigh- 
bouring sandbank, home of the sea bird — bwebwesala. There 
they found their canoe stranded but with the outrigger broken 
off and drifted somewhere. In the morning they located the 
outrigger also. 

From this song I learnt how the song-maker has property 
rights over his song. He must give permission for its use 
in the dance. The song was danced to at the end of the kula 
at Sanaroa, Alo being present and consenting. Like many 
songs it records history. There are many war songs that 
chronicle victories and defeats. 

Form is subordinated to matter, as an assembling of the 
forms already demonstrated shows. We have discussed : 


b a 

c b 

a a 

a a 

b b a 

b (mod.) b (mod.) b 

a a c 


a a a 


d c 

t d 

f c 

c a 

c c 

d d 

c e 

f b 



a b 

b b (mod.) 

b (mod.) a 

c c 

d d 

e e 

b a 











and finally b 













Thus, in a chance selection of songs, we actually do not 
find any two forms exactly alike. There is only a general 
common pattern, no rule of thumb pattern, no over great 
constraint of matter by form. Form is present in syllablic 
congruence of the lines, in the universal division of the song 
into the root and the tied on piece, and in the use of the coda. 
We need not discuss other songs in examination of literary 
structure. Those already examined are an unselected group. 
A number of others will be set down for their own interest 
in an appendix. Some of them throw some ethnological 
light on the byways of the culture. 

Chapter VIII 

Legends are not frequently told in Dobu. They are not 
nearly as popular as dance songs. They are told occasionally 
to satisfy curiosity on a specific point or, and more often, to 
while away a casual hour. On occasions of dignity brief and 
pithy legendary references are often made. 

We have already seen that legend validates magic and that 
the characters of legend are often the spiritual agents which 
magic operates. Thus Kasabwaibwaileta, originally a great 
ancestral hero of the kida, is a spiritual being to-day, mentioned 
in kula magic directed towards enlisting the good will of a 
kula partner, A part of the kula magic is directed towards 
Kasabwaibwaileta specifically. “ If Kasabwaibwaileta turns 
his back on us we get no mtcali and bagi . . . but if he 
turns around, fronts us and laughs, our canoes sink beneath 
the weight of mzoali and bagi.’* Hence there is magic to influence 
Kasabwaibwaileta, as well as the employment of Kasabwaib- 
waileta’s name, and the magical imitation of his example of 
stripping off his diseased skin, to influence more directly one’s 
kula partner. 

One dance song runs : 

i kita UbviaUbwiaga be looks down the steep place 

boiboi tea katvali at night at your crawling 

t kita lebtea lebteaga. he looks down the steep place. 

toalada ya kesitee in walada pool I bathe 

btvaileta kana bteas kasabwaibwaileta his pool 

ya tube tiumanumai I swim drinking of it 

t kita lebtealebteaga he looks down the steep place. 

Walada is a pool in the coral outcrop, Gabuwana, one 
of the last reef outcrops on the voyage from Dobu to the 
Trobriands. There in the legend Kasabwaibwaileta was 
marooned by his canoe crew. From there he ascended to 
the sky on a star constellation. 

In the song Kasabwaibwaileta is imaged as looking down 
on Gabuwana from such a height that everyone seems to be 
crawling there. He still exists and still matters. 

We have already seen further that Kasabwaibwaileta is 
almost the only public supernatural of magic whose legend 


Legend 263 

is a public legend, whose name is public information. Other 
supematurals of magic have but pithy fragmentary legends 
that are secret ^ ; but together with Kasabwaibwaileta we 
must place all the supematurals of the winds such as Yarata, 
the north-west wind, in that their legends are public; 

It follows that the great majority of public legends do not 
validate magic primarily. This function applies to the 
Kasabwaibwaileta legend and to the legends of the winds 
only. Other legends deal with the time of the first ancestors 
and the origins of things in supernatural terms without reference 
to the supematurals of magic. 

Legend in Dobu, while it refers to a historic past, does 
not refer to the past only. Just as Kasabwaibwaileta was 
important in the past and is in the present, so also fire was 
first obtained from a woman’s pubes in the past and still bright 
floods of light of indeterminate origin in the night are said 
to be fire issuing from witch women’s pubes. There is no 
sharp distinction between past and present in Dobuan legend. 

We have seen how a span of about four generations only 
divides the Dobuan from the time of the first ancestors, the 
time of legend, and we have seen how this gulf is not stressed, 
so that a continuity of legend-like performances by the 
characters of legends is still expected and firmly believed in, 
read into the facts of nature. 

First we may uncover the tale of Tobwaliton and Tobebeso, 
two supernatural fish monsters, who were credited with 
defeating the efforts of the local rain-maker in time of drought, 
when I was in the field, although an uninformed collector 
of legends might believe that they belonged merely to the time 
of the beginning of the world and of the first ancestors. 

A mango tree stood rooted in Sawatupa (a place of Normanby 
Island near Mt. Bwebweso). They sleep, a man and his dog. 
Also his wife. Early dawn. He asks his wife, “ You roast 
food and we (exclusive i.e. man and dog) go.” She roasts 
food and gives it them. They eat. He and his dog they go, 
stand in the bush. 

Inside the mango tree a fish wriggles. It comes out of 
a crevice. The man does not know what it is — perhaps a 
sorcerer ? Perhaps a witch ? He takes it. He gives it to an 
old woman. She roasts it. He says : “ You eat it, try it out ; 
perhaps you will die ; perhaps not.” 

Often not worthy of the name legend, and often missing from the tradition 
as it is handed down. 



The dog takes a piece of the fish and runs off with it. The 
owner of the dog speaks harshly to it. He says : “ Presently 
it will die.” The old woman roasts it, eats it, finishes it. 

The sun at afternoon she climbs into her house. She 
sleeps like one dead. Night falls. All sleep. It dawns. They 
say : “ Women, you go parallel with the shore, go and see. 
Perhaps she is dead, perhaps she is well.” 

They go parallel with the shore. They call : “ Respected 
old woman, you stand up.” (Aside they say : “ Perhaps she 
is dead, perhaps she is well.”) 

She stands up, she says : “ Good food you gave me. What 
do you bring now ? To-morrow early you go and cut down 
the mango tree.” 

Next day they take stone axes. They go, they cut. All 
day they cut. The sun sets. They leave the tree and go 
to sleep. The tree closes up, it completes its skin (i.e. bark 
and wood) re-gathering it to itself. It closes up shut (as if 

They sleep. It dawns. They return. They say : “ Yai, 
how ? Yesterday we cut it and to-day how is it ? It is com- 
pletely closed up again,” 

Again they cut. One slab of wood they cut out. A woman 
carried it on her head to the village. She says : “ My board 
for resting upon.” They cut. The sun sets, they leave it. 
They sleep. 

It closes up again. It closes to — all but one piece, one 
without its mate (of a pair of pieces). Agape and the piece 
lacking. It says : “ Ya ! Where my skin. Altogether I have 
collected it and one piece not. O, it is done. I am lacking ”. 

They sleep. It dawns. They go, “ Ya ! there he has 
closed himself up all but one piece. Who yesterday carried 
a piece away on her head ? ” “ The small woman, she carried 
a piece away on her head. She went with it to the village.” 
“ Eh ! Likewise, we’ll bum the wood cut out.” They cut, 
they bum the cut wood. It falls night. They leave it and go 

It tries to close up. It is deficient finally. It is impossible. 

It dawns. They come. They say : “Yes, likewise.” 

(Cutting and bunung the cut-out wood is repeated with 
good effect for some days until the tree is nearly cut through.) 

The tree its width uncut is now s mal l They say : “ You 
women who are evil in appearance stand on the tree’s sea- 
ward side ; you other women who are handsome stand on 

Legend 265 

the tree’s inland side.” They cut. The tree crashed sea- 
wards. It took up the evil- looking women, bounced back 
inland, flung the evil-looking women inland, took up the hand- 
some women, crashed seawards and flung the handsome women 
seawards and into the Trobriands (lOO miles away overseas, 
I may interpolate). Broad feet, paralysed feet, swelled skins 
and ankles, inland. Good looking women sea-wards to the 

Here I must interrupt the movement of the legend to 
remark that this supernatural tree is conceived as rooted in 
Normanby Island and, after its felling, stretching all the 
way to the Trobriands. It did not kill all the ugly women 
by falling on them as was intended. They were placed 
seawards and it was felled for a seaward fall. All the 
good-looking women were put inland out of the way. But 
the tree defeated all intention by scattering the ugly women 
inland and the handsome women seawards and into the 
Trobriands. It is curious to find in a legend current in Dobu 
such a frank admission that the most handsome women in 
the area are they of the Trobriands, and that in comparison 
their own women of the Central Massim, including the Dobuan, 
are not nearly as handsome. It is true, and admitted frankly 
enough in the legend. 

Good-looking women seawards to the Trobriands. 

From the felled mango tree stretching from Normanby 
Island to the Trobriands, from its root water poured forth, 
water, water, water, and water again, covering the tree from 
sight, making the ocean above it. 

Tobwaliton said to Tobebeso ; “ My friend, you remain, 
I go, the mango tree to walk along ”. Tobebeso himself was 
a fool. He gripped the root, the mango tree quivered. As it 
lay Tobwaliton walked on it. He returned and said : “ My 
friend, you are mad. Stop it. Let me walk along it first. 
Afterwards you may grip it and make it shake.” 

Sword fish appeared. He passed over the sea making 
it calm. The fish tvatuatuke said : “ My friend, you stay ; let 
me go first and the islands of our grandchildren let me set 
down.” Watuatuke fish goes. Madalabuna Island, Nedaonara 
Island, Tewara, Sanaroa, Domdom, Legumatabu, Segata, 
Kwaluia, Lesopi, Kotukotu, lagaina, Similagaga, Wadana 
Islands he made and completed. He turned about to the 
Bwaidogu side. Samarai, Kwato, ’Anuabada. He came to 
Mt. Solomanaki. He meant to cut right through it. He lay 



on top instead. He wriggled, cut a lake. Inside the lake are 
now many fish. So he finished land making. 

The water poured forth from the mango-tree root. They 
became afraid lest it engulf everything, and their efforts in 
vain. Their sister said : “ E ! presently my grass skirt I shall 
take off and you shall see my pubes.” She doffed her skirt. 
Vulva she had none. A kalitabu shell she took ; she charmed 
it ; lay it between her legs. With it they closed up the tree. 
The water flow ceased. 

The woman said : “ Done ”. They said : “ Yes, good, it is 
finished.” They took charcoal. They blackened their bodies 
over with it. They dived into the water. The deep sea mist 

She charmed them. They became sharks and kokoko 
fish. They asked to come back to shore. She refused them 

They, angry, made the sea bitter. Long ago we drank 
sea water and it was good. Shark and kokoko fish embittered 
it. Now enough it is bitter ever. We throw it away. And 
shark and kokoko fish still eat men. 

It will be appreciated that this legend is a very mine of 
information. It tells of the origin of fish and of the sea, why 
Trobriand women are better looking than D’Entrecastreaux 
women, why sharks and one other fish (unidentified) eat men 
when they can, why the sea is bitter, how islands were made, 
how there came to be fish in the crater lake of Mt. Solomanaki, 
so high above sea- level. 

The mango-tree is believed to lie still under the wide seas 
(unrotted, of course). “ This is not legend just,” said my 
informant vigorously, “ this is everyday speech absolutely 
verified. Some legends we hear with our ears only, but this 
thing we have seen. Near Sawatupa, the root lies. We have 
seen the place. Our canoes are under t(Au not to approach 
it closely at peril of the root opening again, more water coming 
forth, and the sea rising to engulf the level land and the highest 

My informant was exaggerating a little. For legends 
“ heard with our ears only ” are few. They do exist. But 
the great majority of legends are confirmed in just such 
“ everyday speech ” or sight. Tobebeso and Tobwaliton 
came back to frustrate the rain-maker. There is a tabu on 
approaching the site of the mango- tree root. The wonders 
of legend are not past. The world is still young. Much 

Legend 267 

magic is told of in legend that is not done nowadays. 
But every now and again a man or a woman claims to be able to 
do such extraordinary magic as is done by the actors of legends. 

My reader may have noticed how in the opening of the 
legend quoted above a strong solidarity between a man and 
his dog is evident. He tells his wife to cook food for us, 
exclusive, i.e. for himself and his dog. Later on, fish, being 
then unknown and suspected of possibly being poisonous 
to eat, he gives it callously to an old woman to eat and is 
enraged at his dog running off with a portion. The unfortunate 
animal may die. 

It would be incorrect if it were concluded that this is merely 
a joke. It is not. A man normally cares more for his dog 
than for mere acquaintances. Also cases of a man spearing 
his wife out of affection for his dog, which she had treated 
shabbily over food, have come before the white courts. Not 
that a dog is not eaten in the last resort — that is always the 
case. There is a relationship term in Dobu to express the 
particular relationship between a man and his dog, a term 
that caimot be used in any other connection. I do not mean 
that wife-spearing is frequent. But it will be apparent that 
the man-dog relationship is socially important. In one aspect 
it has the point of helping the man to maintain his social value 
against woman’s power in a matrilineal society. Women do 
not own dogs. The unfortunate animals have become 
involved in marital disagreements. In quarrels the man may 
break his wife’s cooking pots ; she may be unkind to his dog. 

To illustrate the fact that the events of legend are not 
left pigeon-holed in the past in Dobu, I shall cite two more 
legends. The remainder of the legends I shall give in a later 
publication, where the emphasis will be upon Dobuan texts 
with interlinear translation. 

First we may take the legend of Nuakekepaki : — 

The fleet of the men of Dede speeds. They say : “ Where 
shall we drop sail ? ” “ At Tewara we shall drop sail, and lie 
with the women of Tewara. Handsome women are they, 
W'omen of Tewara.” They go. They would lie with the 
women. The women are unwilling. It dawns. They sail 
off to Gumawana. 

(The same action then follows for the fleets of the men 
of Sanaroa and of the men of Waruma respectively.) 

Nuakekepaki speaks : “ I go, I shall see the women.” They 
all said, Dede men, Sanaroa men, Waruma men, the same 

268 Legend 

thing. I eavesdropped. All said, “ They are beauties, Tewara 
women.” His belt of sapisapi shell he donned, his armbands, 
his nose bone he inserted, his earrings, his pouch he fastened. 
A great rock moving under the sea is the house of NuakekepaW. 

(The owners of the village, youths like Kinosi, go to lie 
with the girls. They disperse scatteredly.) He comes to the 
edge of the village clearing. All the youths enter the houses 
of the girls and the place is clear. He comes out. He calls 
up : “ Open the house that I may ascend.” “ Who are you ? 

He did not name himself. “ Open the house that I may ascend. 

“ Who are you ? ” He did not name himself. “ Open, that 
I may enter.” She opens the house. ** You may come in, 
let us lie together.” He says, “ Not so ; you collect your 

She collects them. She dons her best skirt, rolls up her 
mat, plucks off betel-nut. They go, they two. The woman 
says : ” Lead the way.” The man leads. They pass through 
Dilikaiai, Mwatuia, Guiaboga, here (Kubwagai), Kwatobwa, 
and descend to the strait, Gadimotu. 

The woman asks : “ Where is our canoe ? ” ‘‘No canoe 
for us ; come, we put out to sea.” The woman slipped off 
her skirts. He said : ‘‘ Don’t.” Her mouth fell open. 

They enter the underwater moving rock. It speeds away. 
They go by Yauyana straits. There the woman stays with 
her new husband’s sisters They stay. Later on they go. 
A big overseas canoe sailed by the Tubetube men they capsize. 
They collect all the wealth it carries. (So they wreck other 
canoes and collect the wealth they carry, necklaces and arm- 
shells, bagi and mioali.) They return. They net fish, smoke 
them on a smoking shelf. 

It dawns. They collect their wealth (fruits of high seas 
piracy), bagi and mwali. Yams, bananas, pig, and fish they 
put up in baskets. With all his many relatives Nuakekepaki 
prepares for a feast. They go Nuakekepaki with his new wife 
and all his relatives. They enter Tewara (by a submarine 
rock voyage). They climb to her village. Her mother is wailing 
for her death. 

She calls up to the house : “ My mother.” Her father 
replies (from inside the house) : “ Who are you, who are you 
that call up so lightly ? Take your light speech from here. She 
who while she lived called ‘ my mother ’ was a great beauty.” ^ 

I The father evidently thought a classificatory term of relationship was 
being used. Note his objection to it. 



She says : “ My mother, it is I.” She (the mother) opens 
the house. She flings her arms about her. She says : “ How 
whence are you come, my child ; ye-e-e-e ! ” She cries 
over her. 

She says : “ My mother, as if my man lived on the heights. 
He is a deep-sea dweller. His name is Nuakekepaki. With 
our (exclusive) mothers we (exclusive) are come.” 

It dawns. They go down to the shore. They send yams, 
bananas, fish, pig up to the village. They cook there the feast 
given by the man to the woman’s relatives (to publicly contract 

It dawns. The woman’s relatives give a return feast to 
the man’s kin. 

“ Let us collect our baskets.” They take their baskets 
and go down. They embark and go to their place. Husband 
and wife remain behind here (i.e. in Tewara). He refused 
his kin (the right to take him and his wife with them). 

The woman becomes pregnant. She bears a child. He 

One day she says (to her husband) : “You go, fish with 
nets. With my child we (exclusive) go to collect food from 
the garden.” They go, mother and child, to the garden. They 
snap off sugar cane, pull up taro, dig yams, and cut down 

A man appears, an Owner of the village {toni-kasa, woman’s 
classificatory brother). He says : “ Where goes your husband ? ” 
She says : “ The man nets fish.” He (the toni-kasa) gives her 
betel-nut, gives her tobacco. (This is never done by man to 
woman not of the same susu except for favours expected and 
granted by acceptance.) 

The husband appears back in the village. The child 
informs his father. “ Oh, an Owner of the village ! Very 
well, she’s his wife. How ? As if it were my village ? ” 

His brothers come for him. He embarked and left. 

Here we have again the motive of the helpless position 
of the man in his wife’s place when she commits village 
“ incest ”, intercourse with a classificatory and village brother. 
Nuakekepaki has already been given some prominence in 
Dr. Malinowski’s Argonauts of the Pacific. His underwater 
swift-moving rock is still one of the terrors of the seas to all 
the bold sailors who hug the reef between Dobu and the 
Trobriands, coming and going once or twice a year. Still 
Nuakekepaki is believed to capsize canoes in order to pirate 



their valued freight of kula arm-shells or necklaces. He began 
doing it in order to collect the kzoesi, the valuables given by 
the man’s kin to the woman’s kin to publicly contract marriage. 
His marriage went the way of many marriages to-day. 
No one suggests that he is now repeating his matrimonial 
adventures. At least I do not know that any young marriageable 
women day-dream of his possible advances ; although such 
a fixation is quite possible in some rare soul. Someone 
occasionally breaks out with legend-based expectations or 
prophesies. But on the seas Nuakekepaki is a constant trouble. 
I once tried the rash experiment of looking astern from the 
stern, and exclaiming, “ Nuakekepaki ! ” Immediately every 
man’s head slewed round in alarm, every paddle hung nerve- 
less. No one thought that I was not warranted in being 
nervous. They all became nervous, too. Piracy for collecting 
a bride price has become piracy for the sake of piracy. 

The last legend that we shall consider here is that of 
Weniogwegwe, the Great Dog. 

Tokedokeket (a horrid ogre of terrifying appearance) 
ravaged the country far and wide. Many died a gruesome 
death. The rest fled to a remote island. 

One woman is left alone. She goes on gardening. 
Tokedokeket appears daily whenever she cooks food, demands 
it, and gets it. 

The woman grows fainter and fainter with hunger. One 
night in a dream her mother’s spirit comes and instructs her 
to find Weniogwegwe, the great Dog, under the rubbish in 
a certain spot near the garden. 

Next day the woman lifts the ru^^bish and discovers 
Weniogwegwe . 

“ Who are you ? ” says Weniogwegwe. 

“ I am your master, one whose voice you hear and obey.” 

She cooks food in the garden, first carefully covering 
Weniogwegwe from sight with her grass skirt. 

Tokedokeket appears as usual. “ Give me my food.” 
She gives it to him. (Weniogwegwe) Gr-r-r-r ! 

Tokedokeket takes to his heels, Weniogwegwe gives chase. 
Tokedokeket arrives near his home. His wife opens out her 
legs for intercourse. “ No, we must run.” They run into 
their house and close the door, blocking it up. 

Weniogwegwe takes a stem of cat’s-tail (in the Dobuan 
still called Wenio’s tail) and leaves it projecting outside their 
door. Tokedokeket and his wife have no food and water but 



they dare not venture out. Every time they peer out they 
see Wenio’s tail. 

“ You micturate, I must drink.” “ You defecate, I must 
eat,” they say one to the other. Wenio’s tail remains there. 
They die miserably in their hut. 

The solitary woman sends up smoke signals. The refugees 
w'ho had fled to the isolated island return. Weniogwegwe 
meets them. They offer him a spondjdus shell necklace. 
He declines it contemptuously, “ a binding for firewood.” 
They offer him an armshell. He spurns it, “ a woman’s head- 
rest to carry loads upon ”. They offer him a ceremonial 
(too fine for use) greenstone axe-blade. He refuses “ a splitter 
of wood He asks for a wife. They give him a woman. 

Weniogwegwe still roams in the bush of a dark night. 
He is as big as a house, his eyes are like glowing embers. One 
man I met had thwacked him on his huge flank with a paddle, 
and Weniogwegw^e fled leaving him unmolested. But usually 
he is liable to devour a man that he meets. He is a source 
of some fear at nights, but only away from the village. 

The Trobrianders believe in him to the extent that they 
know of him. Every year when the Trobriand kula canoes 
approach the Dobuan district of Bwaioa, the owner of each 
canoe utters the charm : — 

Floating spirit of the earthquake, 

(Nikiniki being earthquake) 

Duduba, Kirakira (names of birds), 

Thy fury ebbs away, O man of Dobu 

(and many like expressions until we come to) 

The dog plays about. 

The dog is docile.' 

This spell abates the fury of the Dobuan man and of the 
Great Dog together. Its opening lines contain some Dobuan 
terms and tow'ards the close we have reference to our super- 
natural friend, Weniogwegw'e. He is not a supernatural 
accessory to magic. He is not controlled by magic for useful 
ends. He is merely guarded against in the Trobriand kula 
spell as also in the tunaseana ^ of the Dobuan kula magic. We 
see that public legend enjoys a supernatural world of its own 
that has only occasional contact with magic. Most Dobuan 
magic uses supernaturals whose very names are close secrets, 
whose legends are secret, and fragments or nothing, even so. 

' For the complete charm see Argonauts of the Western Pacific, pp. 347-8. 
• See page 226. 


272 Legend 

The supernaturals of public legend provide for some motional 
situations in Dobu that are not derivative from magic ; not 
such omnipresent emotional situations as those arising from 
magic, it is true, but very real and also independent. The 
most noticeable function of public legend in Dobu is to sustain 
an interest in the marvellous. It provides occasional excite- 
ments other than those secured by magic. 

Chapter IX 


Up to the present we have outlined the social pattern in 
its various departments, using individual cases to illustrate 
the pattern. Now we may envisage a typical individual in 
his progression through the culture, taking the case of a male. 

At his own birth a male is for the first and the last time 
present at a birth. He is unavoidably present. Thereafter 
his presence in any house where a woman is in labour is avoid- 
able, and he is excluded. 

The child is born in the house of his mother’s mother. 
The man does not approach the house while his wife is in labour 
or for the month following the birth of the child. Mother 
and child remain naked in the hut of the former’s mother for 
a month after birth, only a few women of the mother’s susu 
being permitted to enter. During this time mother and child 
lie on a long bunk under which a fire is kept going continuously. 
This custom is called “ roasting of the mother and child ”. 
The child is suckled by its mother. If its mother is deficient 
in milk the child suffers ; there is no custom of procuring a 
wet nurse. 

After the month of “ roasting ” the man joins his wife and 
child in one of their respective houses. Now, until weaning 
of the child, the man is prohibited from intercourse with his 
wife. The child makes its entry into the world as a definite 
barrier to the intimacy between man and wife. The male 
child is not the man’s heir. If the wife is barren or uses 
abortifacients, it is not her husband who may legally object, 
but her mother’s brother who may flog her. Her son is 
his heir. 

In consequence child-birth is often a delicate issue between 
husband and wife. It is my strong impression that while 
intercourse between husband and wife is prohibited until 
the child is weaned, other methods than that calculated to 
make the woman pregnant again are used. What is certain 
is that children are often weaned too young, the mother 
smearing a nauseous mixture on the nipples. They are fed 
early on partly masticated yams. 


274 Individual in Social Pattern 

So, generally speaking, we may envisage our infant as 
wanted by the head male of its mother’s susu, unwanted on 
the whole by the father, and usually not wanted by the mother. 
The mother is said to lose her beauty in child-bearing. To 
her own chagrin she is at a discount thereafter in love affairs. 
Discipline between elder and younger generations within 
the susu is essential to the continuance of the Dobuan people, 
and any antagonism to the legal status of the susu by white 
Mission or Government will lead naturally to depopulation. 

The infant as he grows is made ashamed of allowing his 
natural functions free play in public. He achieves decorum 
at a very early age. He is slapped and left to cry without 
sympathy when he offends his parents upon any count. He 
runs naked until he is between three and half to four years 
old, when he is given a pubic leaf and taught to keep it 
in place. He is of no ceremonial importance except that an 
exchange of wealth between the kin of his father and the kin 
of his mother, initiated by the former group, may be said 
to be in the name of the child. The child is given no feeling 
of importance or prominence, however, even on this occasion. 
At any period between five and seven or eight the child has 
his ear lobes and his nasal septum perforated by his father or 
by his mother’s brother. This is quite informal, and a small 
child may often be seen running about with only one ear lobe 
pierced. He is made ashamed to flinch or to cry out under 
such pain as ear-lobe perforation, but he still cries from “ mental 
hurt ” if he is punished for not being obedient or for any such 
reason. At this stage he not only goes with his parents 
gardening, but he is also given a small 6 feet square plot 
as a garden of his own, for his own managing under direction. 
He is taught small parts of garden magic, charms which he 
is taught to keep most severely secret. He goes off with a 
gang of small boys in the afternoon usually. The gang may 
fish in pools with small lines and hooks. The six- and seven- 
year-old have been taught fishing charms for the purpose — 
small charms for small children. Secrecy in keeping these 
charms, each child to himself, has been strongly stressed. 
The father normally gives his own child these small charms, 
showing it at the same time some such typical childish and 
unimportant trick as how to hypnotize a giant grasshopper 
with a certain technique, and a certain infant’s charm — the 
lullaby his mother used upon him to put him to sleep when 
he was younger. 

Individual in Social Pattern 275 

As the child grows to be about nine and ten years old he 
comes into a measure of manhood. His nasal septum and 
ear lobes are pierced. He wears ear-rings and arm-bands. The 
arm-bands were torture to him when they were forced over 
his elbows, a slow process for an hour or more — so tight they 
are. He is taught baby charms no longer, but the real ones 
of adult life. In three or four years the boy will be a youth 
courting the girls, and sleeping with one or other of them every 
night. He now learns real love charms in preparation from 
his father, and, if he has worked well in his mother’s brother’s 
garden, from his mother’s brother also. It is no longer safe 
for the father or the mother to strike the nine-year-old boy. 
If he is struck, he will imitate his father and mother when they 
are engaged in a family quarrel. Imitating his father he will 
break his mother’s cooking pots. Imitating his mother he 
will treat his father’s dog harshly. Such abuse of household 
valuables is too unprofitable to be courted by the parents. 
The father, at the utmost, may hurl stones viciously at the 
boy. But the boy ducks and dodges deftly. That also has 
been a part of his recent training. Any adult may engage in 
a game of throwing dummy spears at a child, the child returning 
the compliment. The dummies are pith protected at the point, 
long but heavy enough reeds like a bulrush stem. They are 
thrown with greater force and precision by adults, and dodged 
with great adroitness. The boy learns to throw and to dodge. 
If it is stones hurled he dodges equally adroitly. There were 
no shields used in Dobuan warfare. 

The boy, although now free from punishment, has been 
well disciplined in earlier years. He does not run away from 
gardening work in his parents’ and mother’s brothers’ gardens, 
or if his elder brother is engaged, in his elder brother’s parents’- 
in-law gardens also.^ He is well versed in his obligation 
of keeping magic secret. Nevertheless between the ages of 
seven and twelve he is a power that is often courted by other 
stranger adults in secret. Has there been a severe illness or 
a death in his family or amongst his near relatives, then a 
diviner has been called in. The result of the divining may 
not have been made public. In that case various enemies 
of the ill or dead person vnll be uneasy, and in fear of the 
diviner having given their names to the kin of the ill or the 
dead as witch or sorcerer responsible. They obtain a kinsman 
or a close friend to try to “ pump ” the small boy of the family 
> Except to work for a white man. 

276 Individual in Social Pattern 

that summoned in the diviner. I have seen an adult in such 
case try to pump a small nine- or ten-year-old, for some hours, 
with I know not what offers of bribing. Again adult strangers 
may attempt to obtain the nine or ten-year-old’s knowledge 
of love magic. I was awakened by just such a conference under 
my house wall once at two o’clock in the morning. I eaves- 
dropped from my bed until I was sure what the matter was — the 
rhythmical repetition of magical formulae. My astonishment 
was great to discover young 3 feet nothing teaching 5 ft. 6 in. 
love charms. At that early hour in the dark night they were 
too scared to leave the village. The side of my house was 
the most secluded place. 

Again, the boy is a good confidant and go-between in the 
most private of love affairs. Just because the boy is not 
personally involved in adult life he is made use of as bribed 
spy and confidant in affairs of the heart, of magic, and of the 
underground war of the black art. His mother’s brother 
alone dare flog him, and will not do so unless he takes that 
august person’s coco-nuts or betel-nut without permission. 

The boy approaching puberty now chews betel whenever 
he can get it. He has his teeth blackened with a black paint. 
He grows his hair long, combs it carefully, paints his face with 
black paint, oils his body carefully every night. Presently 
he goes to sleep with his young sweethearts at night. As he 
goes off after the evening meal his father may call after him, 
“ With your penis, O.” The boy is abashed, but goes off 
stoutly. In truth he is not yet sexually mature, but he knows 
the facts of sex well enough from sleeping nightly in the same 
very small hut with his parents. As a seven- to ten-year-old 
gangster he went about shouting freely to his associates “ With 
your penis, O ” or returning “ With your testicles, O ” ; but 
now that he is involved and is actually sleeping with the young 
girls and experimenting with his only half ripened sex impulses 
this same language does not pass his lips. The pre-pubescent 
girls of his own age have lain with boys older than he, boys 
of sixteen or so, on occasion, and consequently are more 
experienced than he. 

The boy, come to puberty, sleeps no more in his parents’ 
house. Every night he must go a- roving to find a girl and a 
night’s resting place. Usually there is a young widower, or 
more frequently a young man, who has divorced a young 
wife for adultery nearby. This young man will have a house 
of his own which he built at his marriage. There the boys. 

Individual in Social Pattern 277 

temporarily out of humour for roving and wooing, or out 
of luck, may sleep. It is felt improper that a youth should 
stay at home where his parents lie together and where his 
sister must be left free to receive a lover if one comes that way. 

For some years the boy has been learning real magic, that 
is if he is first-bom and in the line of inheritance. At puberty 
comes the next step. He is taken overseas in the kula canoes. 
He paddles, and learns the art of managing a canoe. He sees 
strange places. After several such trips his mother’s brother 
will give him a kula valuable as a reward for his previous services 
in canoe manning. He then enters the kula in earnest, a young 
blade of seventeen or so. Nowadays he goes away to work 
for the white man at this stage. He returns, and marries. 
His marrij^e usually goes on the rocks, as divorce follows 
infidelity, and fidelity is very very rare. Typically his wife 
will commit adultery with a village “ brother ”, he with a 
village “ sister Both will remarry after their divorce, but 
not with village “ brother ” or “ sister ”. That is forbidden 
for marriage, therefore good field for adultery. 

The infant is the heir desired by the susu, not desired by 
the marital grouping. He marries outside the several susu 
of his village, but commits the greater proportion of his 
infidelities within the several susu of the village ; so expressing 
in his married life, as in his birth, an antagonism to any marital 
grouping. At his death his corpse is buried by the several 
susu of his village, his skull is taken by them, and his spirit danced 
to Bwebweso by them ; and from the obsequies all others 
who are not of the susu of the village are rigidly excluded, his 
widow and former surviving wives amongst them, his children 
also. From birth to death the Dobuan is a susu dominated 
individual. Susu right is not a legality external to him. It is 
a part of him, and his emotions are moulded to it. I did not 
see any one conspicuous instance of father-love between father 
and son. It is the mother who mourns for the son who goes 
far away to work for the white man, who pleads with him not 
to go, and who loves him truly. More than once I saw a boy 
go away so. The mother, in one case, came out with a package 
in her hand. As she came near I saw her face working con- 
vulsively. She thrust the gift into the boy’s hand without 
looking at him and fled away along the path still not looking 
lest he see her face. She could not look on his departure. 
So it usually is. The father was a step-father, as is the case 
more often than not. He did not care except for losing an 

278 Individual in Social Pattern 

economic asset. The blood-father was occupied with another 
woman and her, some his, children. He was long cut off, in 
feeling. Father-daughter love I did see, and it conspicuous 
enough to be greater than mother-daughter love in one instance. 
But on the whole passionate family attachment does run most 
strongly where it is legally supported, between mother and 
child, between brother and sister. It must not be thought 
that father-son love is the strong silent rebel against the susu 
system. Far from it. The great rebellion is from the often 
most passionate ties that are contracted in marriage. Brother- 
sister attachment within one blood family does not react very 
dangeroysly against marriage, as I saw in the Admiralty 
Islands. But in Dobu various susu own a local dwelling place. 
They attribute sorcery, witchcraft to all other local dwelling 
places. They are brought up as children to fear the places 
they must later marry into. The children who are members 
of the several village susu are playmates together. They trust 
one another far more as adults than they trust their respective 
relatives-in-law. They are organized to make marriage 
insecure. They are friends and yet not closely enough inter- 
related to feel as strongly about incest as true brother to true 
sister. Here the legally extended brother-sister tie acts as 
a serious intrusion into the marriage ties of the village members, 
who all reside side by side all their lives, with only alternate 
year excursions to live with relatives-in-law. Dwelling houses 
are all close together like tents pitched by a camping party, 
and, like tents close-pitched, hold secrets badly. It is marriage 
which pits private passion against an unreceptive village susu 
alliance. And typically marriage dissolves, reforms, dissolves 
and reforms, and might reform again after dissolution less 
were the means of suicide more effective. The alliance of 
village susu remains firm, cemented by local land holding, 
local birth, local death. The children pass out of the father’s 
grasp. The firm, undissolving group possesses them, the 
dissolving group passes them by. The father does not care 
as greatly for a grown son as we expect a father to care in our 
own society. He does appear to care for a grown daughter 
in some cases. Here we find rebellion, but it is not as in- 
stitutionally dangerous as is father-son love. It may be objected 
that I have stressed the inheritance of garden land and magic 
from father to son as due to strong father-son attachment. 
I did not, however, discover any conspicuous instance of such 
attachment between young adult son and father. That fact 

Individual in Social Pattern 279 

remains firm ; and I would stress the fact that the division 
of the inheritance between Boundary Man and his cross-cousin 
Owner may depend not only on a father’s attachment to his 
son while the latter is yet a child, but possibly even more on 
the necessity felt for keeping the peace between an adult 
Boundary Man and an adult cross-cousin Owner when the 
father of the former, mother’s brother of the latter, has passed 
away from the individualistic and quarrelsome society that 
is Dobu. 

In correction of some points, the plant mentioned at the foot of 
p. 127 is an unidentified cultigen, not uncommon in New Guinea, 
and is not a species of maize. The account of pre-marital court- 
ship in this chapter is subject to the correction made in Chapter 
VI, pp. 241 et seq. So is the view of depopulation in this chapter 
subject to the correction made in the same reference. In his 
work Polynesian Religion, pp. 296-311, under a heading Seasonal 
Fertility Rites, E. S. Craighill Handy shows that there is definite 
proof of an association in the native mind of fertility rites w'ith the 
thought of the return and presence of the spirits of the dead. The 
amorous parties for adolescents arranged in the Milamala or 
Palolo worm moon in the Trobriand Islands and on Egg Laying 
Day in the Dobuan Islands are such fertility rites, not that the 
Dobuans celebrated the return and presence of the spirits of the 
dead as the Trobriand Islanders did. There is a mistaken view, 
not only in this chapter, but in Malinowski’s books on the Tro- 
briands also, that amorous occasions for adolescents were secular, 
were continuous throughout the year and were pre-marital 
courtship. Actually marriages were arranged ones. Again the 
view that the distinction between the kindred of the susu or matri- 
lineage and the family W'as a cause of divorces may be corrected. 
The reasons of those who preferred their own arrangements over 
the prior arrangements made for them by their kindred may have 
included early deaths of spouses and a number of reasons which 
were not investigated in detail. It takes more than a few remarks 
to define or to characterize the Pacific Island culture of the 
neolithic or of the colonial period. A remark on p. 135 that there 
W’as jealousy of possession in society or in the culture is not nar- 
rowly intended. 

Appendix I 


The social organization of the Basima people who live at the sea- 
ward foot of Koyatabu, holy mountain, on norA-east Fergusson Island 
is matrilineal in clan descent. Marriage residence is virilocal. The term 
virilocal means simply that wives reside in their husbands’ villages — a 
former term with the same intended meaning was patrilocal. How- 
ever, as Some husbands were not also fathers, and as those who were 
organized in localised matrilineal clans might reside in their maternal 
uncles’ and not in their fathers’ villages, the term patrilocal as it was 
used to refer to wives’ residence in their husbands’ villages was dropped. 
The virilocal residence of the Basima may be contrasted with the bi- 
local residence of the Dobuans ; and in the first edition of this book it 
was, with brittle marriage and the fear of sorcery amongst the Dobuans 
attributed to the mixed company resulting from bi-local residence. 
Today it may be remarked that the bi-local residence of the Dobuans 
is associated more exactly with wives’ growing yams on their own clan 
land and residing on it in one year, giving gifts of yams to their hus- 
bands’ sisters in exchange for gifts of shell currency in such years, and 
in intercalated years not doing so. In the intercalated years the wives 
live in their husbands’ villages and their husbands’ sisters give them 
gifts of yams in exchange for gifts of shell currency from them. 

In Basima the custom of interpreting the cause of deaths by reading 
signs on the corpse is practised. The procedure is nearly the same as 
that recorded by Malinowski from the Trobriands, but in a case wit- 
nessed the sister and the sister’s child alone read the signs. The corpse 
is buried for only a few hours before it is unearthed for the purpose 
of sign reading. The signs looked for were one of the following : — 

Pic Wallow. The deceased died of ovming too many pigs. 

Garden. The deceased died of owning too good a garden. 

Dobu and Basima 


Firesticks for Cooking. The deceased died of eating something without 
distributing it to others. 

In this way the provocation for the sorcery or witchcraft that killed 
the deceased is interpreted. The first mark is a pig track with a wallow 
at its end, the second represents the garden space, the third the usual 
arrangement of firesticks in cooking. 

It is not only in the type of divination after death that Basima 
resembles the Trobriands. The decorated yam houses resemble those 
of the Trobriands, and are not found in Dobu or elsewhere in Fergus- 
son Island. The house is built on the ground, not on piles, as in Dobu 
and in the rest of Fergusson, and is of the Trobriand pattern. Poly- 
gamy is common amongst the leading men. There is one chief-supreme 
in title, over thirty villages — a degree of titular authority utterly foreign 
to Dobu and to elsewhere in Fergusson. The chief in Basima is only 
titular chief, however. He works his garden with his own hands and 
receives no tribute. But he is generally recognized in all villages, and 
wears more ornaments than is allowed to anyone else. Dobuans in 
Basima recognize a plant important in Trobriand garden magic, as also 
in Basima garden magic, growing about the Basima villages — not used 
in Dobu. Near a Basima village is a legendary hole from which the 
first ancestors of the village emerged — a tradition familiar to all readers 
of Dr. Malinowski’s works on the Trobriands, but quite unknown in 

The Dobuan Islanders did not practise post-mortem divination and 
they, unlike the Basima and the Trobrianders, did not dance contin- 
uously as a recreation for many nights in the moon following yam crop 
^‘ggirig- Agricultural magic in Basima is in part identical with that of 
the Dobuan Islands. Yabowaine, Nabelita and Bunelala are the main 
names involved. The seed kwatea are not cut into “ eyes ” as in Dobu. 
I brought out this difference with one Dobuan and two Basima men 
present. They treated the subject as delicately and with the same type 
of reserve as a non-militant but friendly Protestant and a non-militant 
but friendly Roman Catholic might possibly treat the topic of inter- 

Despite the agreement there is a measure of difference. The 
legend of the origin of yams describes how a non-gardening first wife 
burnt down the food house of a gardening second wife, the first gar- 
dener, and how the yams promptly fled, half-burnt, overseas to the 
Trobriands. The ritual is conceived as an Homeric struggle between 
the gardeners of Basima and the gardeners of the Trobriands for the 
possession of free flying yams. Streams near the gardens are magically 
dammed up with miniature doll’s house dams, but with powerful ritual 
to prevent the yams from this habit of embarking on logs and sticks, 
going down stream and overseas. Positively yams are magically 

282 Appendix I 

charmed to come from overseas on a big fish’s back from the Tro- 
briands. The Dobuans on the other hand, considered that a pool of 
mobile yam tubers was local to their islands. 

That is all there is to this story. As another point, however, it may 
be mentioned that in the first edition it was remarked in this appendix 
that the Dobuans dourly said that the Basima were “ edagi kaledi ”, 
the sources, origins or roots of laughter. It was remarked also that, if 
detail of difference in tribal belief in myth and magic were pressed, 
agriculturalists might make invidious statements about the superiority 
of their yields to those of the members of another denomination. It 
was said also that Trobriand and Basima yields possibly were greater 
than Dobuan. It is clear from Malinowski’s introduction that he paid 
particular attention to these statements and indeed that he made more 
of them than was intended by them. With regard to the question of 
the quantities of agricultural yields, Tewara Island is stony ground, 
Dobu Island has suffered some depopulation, lowering the yields by the 
standards of 1891. The loss of yams is proportional to that of labour, 
but is not the more considerable loss. Normanby Island, the largest 
Dobuan Island, was not taken into this account. Basima is near 
Tewara Island. An environment was studied, and not a tribal area. 
Where it is said that in Basima the chief received no tribute the state- 
ment may be qualified. He received gifts of agricultural produce 
from his affines in exchange for gifts of shell currency. Such gifts are 
called tribute by Malinowski, but his translation of the Trobriand 
Island term for them as tribute is not a correct one. 

With reference to denominational views in pathology in some archaic 
medicine some of the mainlanders of New Guinea once believed that 
ghosts revealed the identity of medicine men who caused their deaths 
by diseases to diviners by the signs of a code. They killed medicine 
men and fought wars of medicine in immediate sequence to divinatory 
post-mortems. The Trobriand and Basima tribesmen believed that 
ghosts revealed to them by signs of a code that they had died because 
they owned too many pigs, or too much agricultural land, or too much 
food which they did not share with others. Amongst the Dobuans 
also to tell stories identifying living medicine men or women as the 
causes of the deaths of others was not done, except by medicine men 
or women making a claim to identify themselves as such in teaching 
the views of their denomination in pathology. 

In accounts of intersegmentary wars of the pre-contact period the 
use or disuse of medicine as a pretext in different tribal areas with 
different denominational views in pathology may be noted. In the 
colonial period Papuans who show the promise of capacity to do so 
are encouraged to develop their nature on a wider basis. There are 
some students of pathology, pharmacology and chemistry amongst 

Malinowski w rote in a work entitled The Sexual Life of Savages 1020 
“ My informants told me that a magic exists to bring about prernamre 
birth, but I was not able either to obtain instances in which it was 
performed, nor to find out spells or rites made use of. Some of the 
herbs employed in this magic were mentioned to me, but I am certain 
that none of them possess any physiological properties ” (p. 168) In 

Dobu and Basima 283 

the area he discussed there were actually no spells or rites ever per- 
formed with the dried root of Excoecaria Agallocha or the outer bark 
of the root of Aristolochia tagala Cham, taken internally with an aim 
of preventing live births in circumstances which were especial. Nor 
were there ever any spells or rites performed with the sap of Excoecaria 
Agallocha applied externally, a few drops only, into wounds caused 
by shell fish with an aim of preventing deaths said sometimes to follow 
in cases of delay in treatment. From experiments which Dr. F. 
Howarth and the writer have done to date it appears to be likely, 
although this work is unfinished yet, that aristolochic acid is a smooth 
muscle relaxant on the perfused isolated duodenum of the rabbit. 

With reference to a controversial point about the extent of the area 
of influence of the chief of Kiriwina distria, ranking chief in Boyowa 
Island, in the Trobriand group, mentioned on p. 247 of this edition, 
and in the preface, p. xii, it transpires that Seligman misread state 
documents. Malinowski, and later Uberoi, misread them in the same 
sense. The reference to the documents in point on p. 247 to Sir 
William MacGregor’s Annual Report on British Neto Guinea for i 8 g ^-6 
should be read to include also his report for the following year, 1896-7. 
These documents refer to the area of influence of Enamakala in local 
government in the current years, and not in the years before the 

Appendix II 


Christopher’s account of sorcery by magical (i.e. hypnotic) cutting 
open of the body of the victim, abstraction of the vital organs, and 
closing of the body is confirmed, not only by Christopher’s evident 
truthfulness about the secret poison, but also by several independent 
reports of such sorcery. None of these reports are satisfactory, but 
all embody parts of the whole that Christopher gave me. 

First I may quote that collected by Dr. C. G. Seligman ; 

“ Ahuia gave the following account of one method of killing people 
by magic, the sorcerers practising this method being called 
though they were clearly not spirits or other non-human beings. 

“ One or more (often two or three) men who were sorcerers would 
follow their intended victim to his garden, or into the bush. There 
he would be speared and clubbed, and when dead cut to pieces. One 
end of a length of rope is then looped round the dead man’s hand or 
knee, while the opposite end is steeped in certain ‘ medicine ’ [gorto). 
This ‘ go along rope make man get up ’, i.e. the virtue in the medicine 
passing along the rope to the dead man would restore him to life. 
Often the medicine of the sorcerer who first endeavours to revive 
the dead man is not strong enough. Then his colleagues would be 
asked to help. The dead man on his revival is dazed, ‘ he mad,’ 
and knows not where he is, or what has befallen him. He is told 
that he will die shortly ; he does not subsequently remember this, 
but manages to return to his village, where his friends know what 
has happened to him by reason of his feeble, silly condition, though 
the victim himself does not know, and gives no account of what has 
occurred.” ^ 

This report comes from the Koita, a tribe 400 miles from Dobu, 
south and west along the south coast of Papua. It is evident that 
Ahuia is detailing the same practice to Dr. Seligman as Christopher 
detailed to me. Ahuia is described as clan chief, village constable. 
Government interpreter, a man with a good knowledge of English 
which he can write intelligibly. He is English trained, and as 
is evident, has some loyalty to the English in telling what he did 
about vada, since sorcery is punishable. He apparently gave the 
information with detachment. 

Christopher has only some native prestige for his magical power, 
is not connected with the white man officially. He speaks no English, 
pidgin or otherwise, and has never been to school or learned writing! 
He has never been in contact with a missionary, white or coloured. 
He described a case of vada as a participant. 

Dr. Seligman’s account is as good as might be expected for one 
not obtain^ in the native tongue. It is greatly to Dr. Seligman’s 

’ C. G. Seligman, The Melanesians of British New Guinea, pp. 170-1. 


Vada 285 

credit that he should have taken the scrupulous care to set down and 
record an account that appears so impossible on the face of it. It 
gives the confirmation of Christopher’s account that is necessary 
to prove that the tale is not a lie ; and at the same time we have now 
a better understanding of the apparent miracle of vada. In Dobuan 
it is not called vada. It was ciled watoari by Christopher from the 
sorcerer’s shout as he emerges on to his victim. Wawari is also the 
term for the yells used sometimes at night to scare away the spirits 
of witches that are believed to be detected approaching the village. 
From Christopher’s eye-witness account we have, as well as know- 
ledge of the working mechanism of vada, the answer to Dr. Seligman’s 
doubts as to whether the vada or vata is a human or a spiritual agency. 
It is emphatically a human procedure. What cast most doubt on this 
fact previously was that spearing and clubbing and restoring the 
dead to life without leaving any bodily trace, oidy a dazed madness, 
is impossible. Yet this is what Ahuia, Dr. Seligman’s informant, 
stated was a fact and a human fact. Naturally enough Dr. Seligman 
doubts Ahuia’ s interpretation of what is human. 

It is notable that Ahuia’s account contains one omission. It is 
not stated that the sorcerer removes the vital organs of the victim 
before he is restored to apparent but dazed wholeness. This is found 
in the vada of the Mailu of the Papuan coast, east of the Koita and 
expressly stated by Dr. Malinowski ^ ; who also states that vada 
is a human process.* 

Christopher’s account is of the same procedure beyond all doubt. 
It covers the human appearance of the sorcerer in assault upon his 
victim (Seligman and Malinowski), the removal of vital organs 
(Malinowski), the restoration to apparent bodily wholeness but 
dazed madness and forgetfulness (Seligman). Malinowski’s account 
of opening-up of the body, removal of vital organs, and restoration 
of apparent wholeness to the skin of the body agrees with mine, 
against what Ahuia told Dr. Seligman of clubbing and spearing 
and restoration to life. Christopher’s eye-witness account betrays 
a magical opening-up of the body done with a wooden spatula, suit- 
able only for cutting paper. 

Dr. Malinowski, while he has recorded the belief in body opening- 
up, removal of vital organs, and restoration of the body, treats it both 
in his paper on the Mailu people and in the Argonauts as a super- 
stition not connected with any practical procedure. He cites the 
native belief that it is done humanly by a human sorcerer. There 
his information ends. But the combined evidence from Seligman’s 
study of the Koita, and Malinowski’s study of the Mailu, establishes 
the complete, more detailed participant’s account of vada that 
Christopher gave me in Dobu. I had - never mentioned either 
Seligman’s or Malinowski’s account of vada to Christopher or to 
any other Dobuan native. I had no expectation of finding vada in 
Dobu. I had used no leading question. My account fell from a 

* B. Malinowski, Argonauts of the Western Pacific, p. 42. Also Natives 
of Mailu ”, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia, vol. xxxi x, 
1915, p. 649. 

• “ Natives of Mailu,” ibid., p. 648, footnote. 

286 Appendix II 

clear sky out of my sorcery mentor’s indulging in a violently 
emotional reminiscence. 

From the north-east coast comes another account of vada, also. 
“ A somewhat remarkable instance of native superstition is reported 
by Mr. Oelrichs, Assistant Resident Magistrate, in a district report 
relative to a murder inquiry held by that officer. Mr. Oelrichs writes : 

“ ‘ Rather a curious story regarding the alleged bewitching came 
out in the course of the examination of some men during the inquiry, 
and I found it was the general belief in the district (Maisina and 
Wanigela). When a man dies suddenly, it is supposed that when the 
deceased was last in the bush he was met by some persons unknown 
who, it is surmised, live in a swamp ; the man is caught and held by 
the unknown persons, and a vine twisted round his throat so as to 
throttle him ; when the victim faints the vine is released, and he is 
brought round by the application of New Guinea drugs and placed 
on his feet. 

“ ‘ One of the strangers then steps forward and says : “ Do you 
know us ? ” If the subject of the inquiry replies “ No ”, he is again 
asked : “ WUl you tell your people what has been done to you ? ” 
Should he reply in the affirmative he is immediately thrown down 
again, and this time a thorny lawyer vine is forced into his gullet and 
violently withdrawn so as to tear the root of the tongue. He is again 
then asked the question, but is, of course, unable to reply ; the man is 
then badly mauled and allowed to return to his village, where he dies. 
At his own village he is able to speak on any subject but the one in 
reference to the treatment he has received.’ ” 

The Resident Magistrate, C. A. W. Moncktcn, comments : — 

“ It is hardly necessary to remark that fanciful beliefs of such 
nature floating through a -witness’s mind do not tend to clear the point 
at issue.” ^ 

The district from which this case comes is inland of Cape Nelson 
on the north-east coast of Papua. The report covers the human 
appearance of the sorcerer in assault on his victim (Seligman, 
Malinowski, and the account from Christopher). It states “ the 
man (i.e. victim) is then badly mauled ”, in reference to the extraction 
of the vital organs (Malinowski and the account from Christopher). 
It covers the subsequent dazed, forgetful condition of the victim 
(Seligman and the account from Christopher). Best evidence of 
all, it includes the true Dobuan formula, as used by the sorcerer, 
and as given me by Christopher and others — “ You name me ” in 
the Dobuan, “ Do you know us,” in Mr. Oelrichs’ communication ; 
the precaution of the sorcerer against his identity bemg revealed 
and a test of how completely his technique has dazed his victim. 

Thus, from widely scattered areas of Papua, comes evidence of 
a common sorcery practice. Selign^, Malinowski and Oelrichs, 
all three obtained their accounts in pidgin English, the two former 
admittedly so, the last presumably so, as pidgin is the legal language, 
if such it can be called. Christopher’s account was in a native 
tongue that I understand perfectly, and was the evidence of an eye- 
witness, self-incriminating evidence. 

‘ Report on British New Guinea for year ending 30th June, 1904, p. 33. 

Vada 287 

Such covering of separate Koita, Mailu, and Cape Nelson district 
accounts by Christopher’s largely agreeing, but more intelligible 
account, together with his frankness at many times, but con- 
spicuously with regard to the secret poison, Cerbera odollam Hamilt., 
should be convincing in establishing the facts of the vada sorcery 
in an intelligible manner, not only for Dobu, but also for a great area 
of the Possession. It remains sorcery, not violence — hence the whole- 
ness of the body of the ill or dying victim, as in the case of Hill 
Man’s victim, whom I inspected in Dobu Island, suffering from 
the effects of meeting the sorcerer Hill Man in the bush. It is a 
practice that links up with our knowledge of hypnotism. 

I have not been out in the company of a sorcerer on vada bent, 
and I have not seen a victim immediately after a vada encounter. 
But the subject is one difficult to work in great refinement particularly 
if the anthropologist has been seen anywhere in the Territory — for 
rumour travels far — in the company of a member of the legal and 
reforming professions. Administration and Mission. I did my best 
to make my informants believe that I had little sympathy and no 
business with these professions, but although I accomplished a great 
deal in this direction I could not surmount, in the limited time that 
I had, all the barriers of native reserve. Some things were done with- 
out my knowledge although many were revealed. And I would have 
had to stay longer and had a lucky chance of it occurring within 
my own small circle before I had seen vada more closely. 

A practice such as that of vada is one practice of the magical 
complex ; and in a very real sense it is the best paradigm of the 
magical outlook. 

Consider the mental affection known in Siberia and also in 
Malaysia and Indonesia as Arctic madness. The person suffering 
from this trouble has a compulsion to imitate anything done in his 
or her presence ; for example, if the afflicted person is carrying a 
platter of food a mischievous small boy may pick up an empty platter 
and drop it to the ground in sight of the afflicted person. Then she 
also must needs drop the platter, food and all. So in all her actions 
she is compelled to imitate that done right before her. It is a diseased 
suggestibility of an extreme nature. 

And broadly considered, taking sympathetic magic the world 
over, it can be summed up as the use of a suggestive technique upon 
man and upon nature. It treats man and nature as if all existence 
had Arctic hysteria, and were bound to imitate, as if everything were 
permeated with a compulsive neurosis of advanced hypnotic 
suggestibility. Consequently, it is fitting that some such practice as 
vada should be found as the effective element in magic, the point 
where magic for once does not miss its mark. 


Appendix III 


Papua is under the control of Federal Australia, and is administered 
by a Governor appointed by the Australian Federal Parliament. 

It has been the policy of Administration to attempt to punish 
sorcery by imprisoiunent. Now, there is little doubt that when one 
man grievously assaults another or bodily injures another or murders 
another because of suspicion of sorcery then Administration should 
act. But in Papua, Administration has not been content with this. 
It has attempted to get behind such assault and to punish sorcery 
whether it lead to assault or not. For some reason Administration 
has made sorcery a crime, but not witchcraft, although the two pro- 
cedures are very much the same, the main difference being that the 
one is perform^ by men, the other by women. 

Historically within our own culture the reverse has been the case. 
It has been administrative policy to punish witchcraft much more 
notably than sorcery. Within our own culture an administrative 
policy making the practice of the black art a crime was the product 
of a close co-operation between Church and State. The prosecution 
of witchcraft was bitter, vigorous, far-reaching and more prejudiced 
gainst the crime than any secular prejudice would have been. 

In Papua of to-day the case is otherwise. It is true that the practice 
of the black art by inales is a crime. It is true that the State some- 
times proceeds against it from information against it offered by the 
Church, which is fighting a not wholly secular battle against magic. 
But, nevertheless, the punishment is comparatively mild, usually 
less than a year’s imprisonment, and is not more than is fitting to 
a purely secular view of the murders, assaults, and unsociabilities 
that occur in a native community in which sorcery is rife. 

The Native Ordinance declares : “ Sorcery is only deceit, the 
lies of the sorcerer frighten many people ; therefore, the sorcerer 
must be punished.” 

This formulation is even milder than is necessary. We have seen 
that the tabus, the believed secret poison, and probably most of the 
sorcery stock-in-trade, is a system of belief which allows individuals 
to luve secret ideas that the black magic which they have been broad- 
casting has taken effect ; whereas, in reality disease and death have 
in most cases been natural. 

Vada is a more serious case, where sorcery probably kills or 
damages severely, we have seen reason to believe. Thus the Ordinance 
might well be amended to, “ Sorcery is for the most part mistaken 

The wording of the Ordinance betrays one misconception, however. 
Sorcery is not merely deceit, and the sorcerer an exceptional person, 
who intimidates others who are not sorcerers. This is true in some 


Administration and Sorcery 289 

areas of the world but not, as far as I know, in Papua. In some 
areas of the world the practitioner of black magic is a different person 
from the practitioner of white magic, and is more or less in conflict 
with his better-class, more publicly approved rival. There is nothing 
of this, however, in Papua, according to present report. 

In Papua sorce^ is an integral part of the supernatural system 
of the people. This supematu^ system is practised by everyone, 
and beUeved in firmly by everyone. Like most supernatural systems 
it enlists its believers, not by tricks, deceits, and stratagems, but by 
a more dignified faith in the reality of Unseen Forces, and in the 
reality of the power of human speech to affect these Unseen Forces, 
that were “ born with the sun and the moon and the earth ” in contrast 
to mortals “ we are but newly come ”. 

If the Ordinance were amended to “ sorcery is a part of a super- 
natural system which causes much social damage and fear, but which 
is practised in secret by all members of a Papuan community ”, 
the truth would be more fairly represented. 

One further truth is that one native never knows certainly what 
another is doing in sorcery. The practice is as secret as secret 
poisoning. Consequently the natives must resort to supernatural 
methods to reveal the supposed identity of a sorcerer or of a witch. 
Divination is practised for the purpose. 

One of the great difficulties of the administration of the law against 
sorcery is the impossibility of securing reliable evidence against a 
native. The situation is precisely the same as that which confronted 
our own ancestors when they set out to indict witchcraft. It must 
be emphasired that if the natives believe that X has committed sorcery 
their belief, if they are sure of it, is derived from a magical divination, 
such as should not be valid before any European law court of the 
twentieth century. If it is not so derived, and two or three natives 
bring a charge of sorcery against another, and one of the witnesses 
claims to have witnessed a transaction between the accused and a 
sorcerer, or to be the paid sorcerer himself turned King’s Evidence, 
then the Administrative Officer is ill-informed if he does not realize 
that the complainant and his witnesses are, in at least ninety-five 
cases out of a hundred, perjured men who are carrying on a feud 
with an enemy by using Administration as their unconscious accessory. 
The natives of this area do not regard perjury seriously, and they 
can but rarely be discovered in it except by one who lives intimately 
with them. That I have done, and I know their methods. It is for 
the reasons that I have stated that sorcery charges are but rarely 
laid before the courts by the natives, although sorcery is in constant 
and widely ramified practice. 

The worst aspect of the law against sorcery is not that it tends to 
make Administration accessory to native feuds, however, but that 
it tends to strengthen the practice of sorcery. Magic in general is 
a very blind fool. After a long drought, when rain-making magic 
has proved futile, rain at last falls. The rain-making magic is then 
everywhere acclaimed for its great power. In this same way most 
sorcery is futile, bUnd, and proved powerful by a foolish conception 
of what constitutes proof. I except vada only. 

290 Appendix III 

In regard to rain-making magic, garden growing magic, and the 
like it may prove possible to finally ridicule the people out of their 
faith in their magic. This is gradually happening in some areas 
exposed to civilization. But, so long as sorcery is a crime, as murder, 
assault, rape, theft, and the like are crimes, it will hardly prove possible 
to ridicule the natives away from it. Does not Administration treat 
it seriously ! There is no doubt that it does, and there is equally 
no doubt that Administration is a powerful ally of the native sorcerer 
against all would-be educative agencies. A native imprisoned for 
sorcery will never learn to take the view that he is imprisoned for 
creating bad social feeling. He and all others inevitably take the 
view that the white man shares in his conception of sorcery as actually 
and directly powerful. 

Now this, from one anthropological viewpoint, is a good thing. 
It is Tffell that Administration should support native custom by a 
little mild legal antagonism, which is not effective in doing more 
than deepening the native faith in his supernaturals because the law 
takes them apparently seriously. The price of a few men in gaol for 
short periods is not too great, considering that it does not touch the 
universal underworld of sorcery, except most casually. Such action 
tends to preserve native custom for scientific study, and should 
be encouraged from this view point. 

Nevertheless, although I favour this view point strongly, I have 
some allegiance also to a contrary view that is derived from the con- 
sideration of what is best for white and native contact in the Possession. 
Contact there has been and there must be ; and white ideals must 
probably replace native ideals sooner or later. Personally, I incline 
to the view that even if this occurs sooner, as it will if there is not 
too much friction, then apart from the anthropological view point 
of preservation of fields for study, it is better so than that it should 
occur later, with, and because of, unnecessary friction. 

Gaoling of sorcerers where all men are sorcerers and liable to 
indictment at any time is a practice that produces racial friction ; 
and it is debatable whether the preservation of sorcery is worth 
the friction. 

The annual reports of the Administration contain many amusing 
stories relevant to the attitudes set up by the policy of Administration. 
One officer reports the following tale. It must be understood that 
in Papuan pidgin, the language used between Administrative officers 
and natives, puri-puri means sorcery in its main and narrower 
meaning ; also magic in general in its wider meaning. Officers are 
not concerned with puri-puri officially in its wider meaning, and they 
have rarely an appreciation of what an everyday thing it is in the 
villages when they are not present. Puri-puri in its narrower meaning 
of the black art is on the contrary one of their official pre-occupations 
and as such it is used in this tale. 

A village constable (native) came to the Station one day and the 
following conversation took place (the conversation is translated into 
English, I may remark, in the report). 

“ You know those two puri-puri men you let out of gaol about 
a week ago, named Andugai and Serawabai ? ” 

Administration and Sorcery 291 

“ Yes.” 

“ Well, when they returned to my village they puri-puri the bush 
pigs, and the bush pigs have broken into my garden and eaten all 
my taro. Look, here is some taro half-eaten ” (presenting a half- 
eaten root). 

“ How do you know Andugai and Serawabai puri-puri the bush 
pigs ? ” 

“ When the two men returned they said : ‘ This village policeman 
got us three months in gaol ; we will damage his garden in revenge.’ ” 

“ Did anyone hear them say that ? ” 

“ No, but what more reasonable thing could they say, since I was 
the cause of their imprisonment ? ” 

“ Then you have no witnesses ? ” 

“ No, none.” 

“ How long is it since you have repaired your fence round your 
garden ? ” 

“ About six months.” 

He was a very crestfallen man when I told him to go and mend 
his fence as New Guinea fences would not last six months. Both 
the village constable and the corporal interpreter were perfectly 
certain the two puri-puri men had done what they stated, and equally 
convinced that I did not understand “ fashion along New Guinea.” ^ 

The Magistrate, who tells this story tells it as a joke on the natives, 
the village constable, and the corpora interpreter. But in reality to 
the well-informed outsider it is rather a joke on the Magistrate and 
Administration generally. The Magistrate put the puri-puri men, 
Andugai and Serawabai, into gaol on the story that they caused illness, 
disease, or death* by hocus-pocus cock-and-bull methods. Now 
sorcery exists not only to produce death, disease and illness, but 
also to magically rob other persons’ gardens {see section on garden 
ritual) and also to send the wild bush pigs into other persons’ gardens 
to destroy them (although I did not find this last in Tewara, where 
I lived and where there were no wild bush pigs left). Where such 
magic exists no illness, disease, death, poor crop, or destruction of 
gardens by wild pigs can occur without generating suspicion of 

Why should a Magistrate act upon one story and not upon another ? 
Because one story had witnesses, and the other had not can be the 
only solution. But all evil magic is done in deepest secrey and privacy 
and without true witnesses. 

I think it will be agreed that the joke is on the Magistrate. 
Administration by treating sorcery as a crime lays itself open to receive 
all manner of absurdities and often perjuries. What if the village 
constable had had his witnesses ? By what logic could the Magistrate 
have refrained from sending the two sorcerers back to gaol ? By 
no logic whatsoever I am ^raid. But would he have gaoled them 
again ? Probably not, I am afraid. But by what justice could he 
justify not doing so ? None whatever, I fear. If he were to let the 
sorcerers go free he might rationaUze his action by saying that a 

* Report for year ending June, 1911, p. 13a. 

’ Uidess it was for vada and proven vada. 

292 Appendix III 

Magistrate should not encourage gross superstition. But is not all 
sorcery such : can a line be drawn between what is and what is not 
such by a Magistrate ? If it is drawn to debar magical influence 
on pigs, but not magical influence on human beings, then is not 
the M^istrate a little inconsistent ? 

No one stays long in Papua before he discovers that white men, 
even the best educated of them, vary in the extent to which they 
conjecture native knowledge of poisons to be a true or false know- 
ledge, and native sorcery to be powerful or not powerful in actually 
causing native ill-health. They actually know very little, as they have 
not been initiated into the native arcana by the natives. Consequently 
even the best of Magistrates may vary in their estimates of the ills 
of sorcery. Can a very personal factor be made impersonal in a 
law against such a phenomenon as sorcery ? Is there any rule to 
debar a Christian Scientist, for instance, from a M^istrate’s 
position ? 

Another good story in the Reports narrates how in a time of great 
drought in the south-eastern division, a visitor came to the place of 
drought. He ofiered to make rain for a fee of a pig and a spondylus 
shell necklace. He was retained for the purpose. That night surely 
enough the first rain fell, but not enough of it. Next day the rain- 
maker, now with tremendous prestige, was importuned to make more 
rain. Evidently thinking that the labourer Iwd been worthy of his 
hire already he refused curtly. From the height of his prestige he 
aimounced equally curtly that within ten days all the men of the 
island would be turned into women, and all the women into men.^ 

The men immediately made a sea voyage to Samarai to throw 
Government action against the impending calamity. 

Such magic is no more cock-and-bull magic than most of the 
magic of sorcery. If Administration takes punitive measures against 
one it should against the other. I do not know the issue of the above 
case. But Administration certainly should have let the ten days 
expire before acting, then pointed the moral, and then have refrained 
from further action. 

It will be apparent from such stories as these two, and there are 
many such, how the natives and the Administration share in a world 
of superstition which they both treat seriously. So Administrative 
action must and does app>ear to the natives. 

I learned Dobuan quickly at the outset and made a journey across 
Fergusson Island speaking it, before rumour had gone across the 
Island announcing who I was or where I came from. One woman 
said I was the spirit of her dead brother come back from the dead. 
She prophesied, on this basis, a general resurrection of the dead shortly, 
and told everyone to kill all their pigs and dogs. A wave of this 
superstition swept over the island and in several tribes the livestock, 
litters and all, were exterminated. The District Officer of the 
Administration tracked down the woman prophet who was partly 
responsible for the state of chaos that he found, livestock exterminated 
no gardening being done, houses stored against a siege in fear of the 
coming resurrection of the spirits. He got her too late, after expectation 
1 Report for the year ending June, 1903, p. 26. 

Administration and Sorcery 293 

had almost died and chaos was already changing back to normal 

I do not think, however, that it was necessarily wise to have kept 
her in gaol for a month. Superstition could say, and did say, that 
the power of the white man had intervened, and that inevitably the 
resurrection of the spirits had been frustrated. Better far to leave 
such superstition to its own failure — it could not have done much 
more damage than it had already done, and its more convincing 
failure might have done good. 

It will be seen that there is a case for Administration refusing to 
touch native superstition. Such a case as that last quoted is on 
debatable ground, because of the extent of the damage to property 
done by the owners of their property. But even legally there is some 
right for an owner to do what he likes to his own property. A 
Christian Scientist has even a right to refuse to have a doctor attend 
the serious illness of his child. Sorcery is less debatable ground. 
It is a traditional system, not the uprising of a new prophecy. It is 
not questionable that Administration supports belief in it by treating 
It M seriously as to hold long court cases upon suspected instances 
of it, ^d to convict supposed sorcerers to a term in gaol. It is perhaps 
questionable whether belief in sorcery requires the support of 
Administration. But considering the very great influence that white 
contact can and does in many cases exert ujwn native life, considering 
that a growing minority of natives, at least, are less convinced of the 
power of white magic than their fathers were, it is perhaps true that 
the native belief in sorcery is coming to require the support of 
Administration more and more, and will continue to do so in the 
years to come. 

Whether Administration will favour this support or not should 
depend upon its examination of the customs of the Papuan tribes. 
Owing to the existence of the law against sorcery an investigator 
known to be associated with Administration can only hope at best 
to touch the fringes of the customs connected with sorcery. There is a 
great deal of native feeling against the law, naturally enough, although 
there need be no opposition to it from the anthropologist anxious 
to pre^rve a native sanctuary for scientific purposes. Dobu, which 
I studied, is just such a good sanctuary scientifically. Whether the 
Dobuans would be better natives without their own legal sanctions 
of black magic powerful in enforcing economic honesty, and without 
their feuds it is difficult to say. They would possibly become more 
dishonest amongst themselves and more sociable also. Black magic 
in Dobu tends to nourish honest economics, and much bad feeling. 
It is undoubtedly an expensive and an imperfect method of main- 
taining honesty in native econonuc exchanges. Almost all natives in 
Dobu Island can read and write Dobuan now. But they are enemies, 
owing to sorcery distrust, to all persons who do not live so near to them 
as to be spoken to more easily than to be written to. If black magic 
were not supported so strongly by Government measures, ostensibly 
directed against it, it might in time be dispensed with without too 
much social damage by an education that would include the use of 
writing for business piuqKees. Writing could be used in giving a 

294 Appendix III 

receipt for a payment and such documentary evidence could be 
preserved against disputes, now settled by black magic, but possible 
then by legal settlement. 

Meanwhile, white legality intrudes somewhat bizarrely into 
native life and, as I have shown, even throws its weight against the 
chances of its own reform. Such chances of reform depend greatly 
upon the measure of consideration that may be accorded to 
anthropological findings, and to the measure of willingness, unmixed 
with resentment, that may be given to well-founded criticism. The 
gulf between vada and the rest of sorcery is a gulf that should be 
recognized. There should be no difference between most sorcery 
on human beings and sorcery to make pigs do damage for example. 
Nor does the presence or absence of witnesses mean very much when 
the law is directed against such a phenomenon as sorcery. 

Appendix IV' 


It will have been noted from the material that the sorcerer engaged 
in sorcery believes that he must keep his body hot and parched ; 
hence the drinking of salt water, the chewing of the hot ginger, and 
abstention from food for a while. This ginger chewing is used in 
the tabu as well as in more serious sorcery. It is chewed with many 
healing incantations, apart from the tabu exorcisms which are 
breathed into water for bathing the patient. With other healing 
spells it is spat on to the seat of illness. The sight of a magician chewing 
ginger, spitting it on to the object charmed at intervals, and muttering 
his spell at the same time is a common one in Dobu. It is not done 
in garden magic. But it is chewed in some of the magic accessory 
to the overseas exchange, the kula. It is chewed in all the incantations 
to ward off a squall at sea and spat towards the lowering squall. It 
is chewed and bespattered over the canoe in lashing it with incantation, 
in making it speedy and seaworthy by incantation. Moreover, 
there is believed to be virtue in ginger chewing alone — I saw men 
who were anxious to get a man who had just run amuck with a spear 
to chew ginger. I was engaged in deluging his body with cold water, 
while they were pressing ginger into his mouth — so there was some 
incompatibility between our theories. 

The necessity for a hot body is most stressed for sorcery, however. 
Witchcraft is also associated with the sign of heat — fire. It is believed 
that katana fire issues from the pubes of flying witches as they go 
through the night. The body of the witch is also unusually “ hot ”. 
I first heard of the kaiana fire of witchcraft in connection with the 
legend that relates the origin of fire. This runs as follows : — 

An old woman has five grandsons. They go pig-hunting with 
nets. The old woman takes fire from her vagina and cooks her yams 
with it. They return. They give her pig. She gives them uncooked 
food (the cooked food she has eaten herself). They eat. 

Again next day they go hunting pigs with nets. Again fire issues 
from the old woman’s pubes, she cooks her food with it. Unseen 
by her a kitu yam — cooked — drops through a crevice and to the 
ground beneath the house. She replaces the fire in her womb — as 
she had done the day before. She eats her cooked food. Her grand- 
sons return. They give her pig. She gives then uncooked food. 
They eat. 

One grandson discovers the cooked kitu yam on the earth beneath 
the house. He shares it with his four brothers and they eat. 

Next day they go hunting pig with nets ; five men go forth, but 
four hunt pig. One watches his grandmother from the fringe of the 
bush. She takes the fire from her pubes and proceeds to cook the 
food. The grandson rushes out and seizes the fire. She says : “ Give 


296 Appendix IV 

me the fire back or to-day I shall die.” He says : “ Die then, for 
you cooked food you ate, and I udth my brothers tmcooked food 
you gave us and we ate.” Deprived of her womb’s fire she died. 
The fire ignited the bush. Rain came down and put it out every- 
where. The five brothers go searching for it. At last they find a 
taaatawa tree and a dadabuia snake coiled about it, his Ix^y pro- 
tecting a piece of the fire. They threw the snake off and took the 
fire. The fire burnt the snake’s belly, hence its markings. If rain 
comes the dadabtva snake he wails, “ My fire ! My fire ! ” Long 
ago he coiled about the fire protecting it. 

It is believed that fire still issues from the pubes of old women. 
The fire is called kata or katana, and it may sometimes be seen at 
night going to all points of the compass. It is greatly feared. 

Fire is made by rubbing a blunt rounded ended stick in a groove 
worn to fit it in the threshold. The groove is termed kemtoam, the 
stick rubbed in it is called kekusi ,and the act of rubbing it is 'ttsi, ’usi. 
Kuti or 'usi is the term for the male member, and in bad langus^ 
the sex act is sometimes spoken of as “ ta 'usi 'usi be i sabeltilu, we 
copulate and it flames up ”, sabelulu being the term for fire catching 
and flaming. There is thus a parallelism in terminology between 
fire-making and the sex act. 

We thus find an association between : — 

(1) A principle of heat that has to be stimulated to an extra- 
ordinary pitch for the practice of sorcery, that is evidently deficient 
in states of bad health or in running amuck when ginger is chewed 
with believed restorative properties, that also is necessary in the 
practice of wind ritual in squall warding off (not otherwise, I believe), 
in canoe lashing, and in incantation to make the canoe speedy, in the 
incantation over the seuseula, or sea-mat to ward off breakers ; generally 
in creating or in warding off evil. 

(2) The kmana fire associated with witchcraft, as a hot body 
is with sorcery. 

(3) Ordinary fire, in the belief of its origin from the kaiana fire. 

(4) Sex. 

There is no one term that covers this association imless it is yaiyai, 
heat. But ya^ai is not so expressively used as a rule. The association 
remains loose as one comes on it in native thought, and the assembling 
of it is partly my own. A native connects kmana fire and the origin 
of ordmary fire and a sex terminology for the kcdana fire and for the 
making of fire ; but I never heard all this linked up with the sorcerer’s 
ginger and hot body apart from the ordinary term for heat, yaiyai, 
used for the sorcerer’s body. The sorcerer, while engaged in sorcery, 
abstains from coimection with his wife or with anyone else. “ He 
does not diffuse his heat.” 

The complex of ideas concerning heat, found in the idea that 
the sorcerer’s body must be hot with ginger chewing, no eating, 
no sex indulgence, and parched with drinking salt water is a wide- 
spread one. I am indebted to A. R. Brown ^ for a collection of its 
dutribution, in part. 

» A. R. Brown, The Andaman Islanders, pp. 266-309. 

Heat and the Black Art 297 

Heat of the body is connected with spiritual danger, stormy seas, 
the condition at initiation and in the dance, and with fire in the 
Andamans. In the Achehnese of Malaysia heat is used to typify 
all evil spiritual influences. Mona in Malaita of the Solomons is 
connected with heat in the baleful aspects of black magic. 

So in Dobu also heat is connected with sorcery, with the pubes 
of witch women (which also void the volcanic crystals used in one 
form of sorcery), which void katana fire in the night, with sex, and 
with fire in its everyday aspect. 

I may add one further belief concerning the katana fire. It is 
sometimes conceived in the following fashion. If one sleeps touch- 
ing the legs of a witch a gigantic testicle within her body will pass 
over, mount the leg, and lodge in the scrotum — hence elephantiasis. 
This gigantic testicle emerges at night and is seen, a ball of fire, as 
the witch flies in mid-air. This belief is the Dobuan parallel of 
Dr. Seligman’s finding from Bartle Bay, the labuni which the witches 
send forth at night. “ Labuni exists within women and can be com- 
manded by any woman who had children. ... It was said that 
the labuni existed in, or was derived from, an organ called ipona 
situated in the flank and literally meaning egg or eggs ” (p. 640, 

Dr. Malinowski gives a belief from the Trobriands, commenting 
on the Bartle Bay equivalent. “ There is also a belief that nyoyova ^ 
develops within her a something, shaped like an egg, or like a young, 
ripe coco-nut. This something is called as a matter of fact kapmoana, 
which is the word for a small coco-nut.” (p. 238, Argonauts). 

Labuni and kapmaana have the same night-flying properties as 
the Dobuan gigantic testicle. They are the variant euphuisms or 
variations of the same belief. 

* A witch. 

Appendix V 


In discussing the black art every belief cannot be easily organized 
under systematic heads, nor easily interpolated in an examination 
of the main functioning points. I assemble here a collection of 
olla podrida. 

I was once introduced to a professional diviner with the 
recommendation that he had the comparatively rare power of shrivelling 
the male member of his victim up to nothing and of rejuvenating it 
at his pleasure. 

Volcanic crystals, called sinasina in Dobu, are possessed by nearly 
everyone. They are believed to fly of their own power if left about. 
Actually they are only taken out when a man or a woman uses them 
with a spell to project into the body of a victim. They can be removed 
from a sick body that contains one or more by one of them who knows 
the spell to project and eject them. This removal is like a trick in 
appearance, but actually the sorcerer does not think of it as a trick. 
The presence of the crystal in his hand after he has projected it 
magically at a victim, or before he has ejected it from a patient is 
immaterial. The immaterial on the contrary is material in effecting 
his purpose. That is all there is to it. There is no esoteric teaching 
about the practice that might reconcile it with our manner of thinking 
that the whereabouts of the material object is the important fact. 

These crystals are also sometimes used by the diviner. He gazes 
into one. 

Plants of many kinds are used in sorcery. One man I knew had 
a plant which did not hurt him when he held it, but he had only to 
bnish another man with it for the other to sicken and die. I asked 
him: “ Why then does it not hurt you when you grasp it ? ” Back 
came his answer “ It is like a dog. It does not attack its owner — only 
other individuals.” 

The sensitive plant has been introduced into parts of Dobu since 
white contact. The Dobuans fear it greatly, handle it only with 
wooden tongs, and believe that a little of it planted imder a man’s 
path will kill the path user. 

There are many plants believed to be poisons. Cerbera odoUam 
(budobudo) and Excoecaria Agallocha were the only two of these, 
besides the sensitive plant, that I was shown. The knowledge of these 
is supposed to be secret, but Excoecaria is widely known as is also 
the sensitive plant. I judge that Cebera odoUam is a much closer 
^cret than the other two named. The fish poison, derrU, used also 
in attempted suicides, is no secret whatever. 

It is believed that food or tobacco accepted from any person 
not closely related or else a very old and tried friend is liable to contain 


Further Notes on the Black Art 299 

It is interesting to note that fish poison is used without magic 
spells and is effective ; that Excoecaria agallocha is used as an 
abortifacient without magic spells and almost certainly effective ; 
that Cerbera odollam sap is used as a poison in feuds without magic 
spells, and although it is ineffective, the seeds would be actually very 
effective. Assuming that in this last case an oral tradition has come 
to allow a lapse of correct tradition we have a case of magic not being 
used except when the herb is useless, as with the herbs of garden 
magic. Since this is a reasonable assumption it strengthens the 
case for a mistake in the traditional lore concerning the Cerbera. 
Certainly the Dobuan spurns vigorously the bare idea of using 
spells with the Excoecaria or with the Cerbera, or with the derris. 
His attitude is no whit different from a European scorning the idea 
of praying for relief from stomach-ache at the same time that he 
takes salts. Yet herbs such as Cerbera and Excoecaria (not derris, 
which is more public) are classed as igu home “ my vegetable 
product ” (and secret) as it is most directly translated, but which also 
means “ my vegetable product and magic spell going with it ”, by 
extension. One term covers all magic, and all magic herbs, and all 
■secret herbs used without magic. There are other differentiating 
terms that are more specific, of course. Kaitoe in non-magical use 
means tree merely, or wood. 

Appendix VI 


Y€aoara stnasinage 
anua i boi ya keno 
kau yatoara linage 
yatvara stnasinage 

tnusa ma nuanuada be 
duae i sivja be ya numa 
kau yaieara linage 
anua i boi ya keno 
yatcara sinasinage 


I wander without a mother 
the village darkens I sleep 
wandering alone motherless 
I wander without a mother 

would I were with our sister 
soup she’d pour for my drinking 
wandering ^one motherless 
the village darkens I sleep 
I wander without a mother 


ku yamwaUegu 
orai galagalala 
tau ku yamtcagu 

you await me 

the sea coast is booming 

my man, you await me 

eiagu ku ona 
guregure keona 
nuagu i kuku 
tau ku yamtaagu 
ku yamwaUegu 

my brother-in-law speak 
a gureguri keona bird 
my mind is wavering, 
my man you await me 
you await me. 

This song requires some explanatory notes. The first part represents 
a woman tt^ng to her lover. The first three lines of the second 
part, preceding two lines that are the coda, represent the lover talking 
to his brother-in-law. He and his brother-in-law have gone together 
to his secret assignation. He has been disturbed by a noise ; is it 
only a bird, he asks of his brother-in-law, who is standing sentinel 
over his love-making. 

This situation of two men joining in an assignation is common 
enough. One stands sentinel while the other is engaged with the 
woman. Then they reverse roles. They call each other igu esua 
thereafter, i.e. my partner in the seduction of a woman. 


iyano masaUguia 
budia loainena 
loloU iyanogida 
iyano mast^guia 

you had me awake night long 
budia woman 
flute playing arousing me 
you had me awake night long 

ida tana u naba be 
ta sulu dimtoadimwaro 
oraia numa toli 
loloU iyanoguia 

our basket you carry and 
we shall dip up sand 
sea water we’ll drink 
flute playing arousing me. 

The reference to drinking sea water means a way of refreshing 
the body after a night devoted to love-making. 


A Batch of Dance Songs 301 


ima keda dianaduma 
garm maleogana 
mannagu ima keda 
ima keda dumaduma 

OUT path is different from thine 
the abode of ghosts is for 
with my mother alone our path 
our path is different from ttiwe. 

via kohukabuluyegu 
kattUa ya gogci 
muxmegu kena ya ila 
ma sinagu itka keda 

thou hast hated me from jealousy 
my bundle of spears I fashion 
to thee, my wife I return, 
with my mother alone oiu: path. 

The husband sings of his intention of murdering his wife and 
of remaining alone with his mother. “ Our ” is used in the 
exclusive form. 


moraba imisiktoabuia 
via da keno gikelegu 
keno gike gikelegu 

moraba under your sleeping mat 

lie on your bade 

lie on your back, your back. 

monutai kabuegtda 
ya pin kumt boi mma 
via da keno gikelegu 
keno gike gikelegu 

white cockatoo’s cry deceived me 

I fied away by night. 

lie on your back 

lie on your back, your back. 

The youth addresses the woman, Moraba. He is not married 
to her so he has to flee at first-bird song to escape detection. A false 
bird song deceived him. He returns and tells her to prepare for him. 

vaga tttumuicatd 
sinege leionai 
katmoadoge niuuane 
toega mumutvani 


a canoe at midnight 
the widow Leionai 
mourns softly at midnight 
a canoe at midnight 

tea keno lagae 
buyeta nedodauna 
yalovxn delideli 
karmcadoge tuuviane 

you lie with your head inland 
throu^ the tree blossoms 
the douds appear racing 
mourns softly at midnight. 

A fisherman’s canoe comes to where the widow, Leionai, is 
mourning for her dead husband at midnight. The widow is next 
depicted as watching the clouds pass overhead from beneath a 
buyeta tree. 


Kuyotu gteama kuyom 
Ku lolo ya gebe 
ku lolo ya geagebe 

Kuyoni child kuyoni 
untfress that I may see 
undress that I see, see. 

Kuyom mudumuduna 
saUvia tupwauuna 
ku lolo ya gdie 

Kuyoni her mons of Venus 
white as the white pandanus flower 
undress that I may see. 

tobuio geigeoi 
kulena maudoian 
maudoi maudoian 


vulvas of evil 
a cooking pot full around 
full, full around. 

Appendix VI 


maudoi maitdoian 
hand buio ta kai 
ma viagwao sukweyare 
kama kelamgogon 
kuleTia maudoian 

full around 
your vulvas we eat 
with a crowd of my mother’s brothers 
our assembly feast 
a cooking pot full around. 

This is a cannibal song. The vulva was a most highly prized cut. 


i dogu idoguragura he mourns and he mourns 

manucodia ! mwaviasaia black bird of Paradise is dead 
dinegtoa ! doguragura dinegwa he mourns 

hwebwesQ manucodi nina 
kaena lomena ta nano 
manucodia i muiatoasaia 
dinegfca i doguragura 

black bird of Paradise from Bwebweso 
low falling your lament we hear 
black bird of Paradise is dead 
dineg>^'a he mourns. 

The bird of paradise is here given a place in the Dobuan spirit 
home, Bwebweso ; dinegwa, a small bird mourns for him and is 


gurdye i kerdgu a wasp has stung me 

iyoi ! sinagu nimagu ow ! my mother, my hand 

rdma, nimagu rdmagu hand, my hand, my hand ! 

nimagu toada koba be 
gaburaia y da keno 
iyoi ! sinagu nimagu 
rdma, tdmagic nimagu 

my hand you use magic on 
and under the house let me lie 
ow ! my mother, my hand 
hand, my hand, my hand ! 


ya ma koiuagana 
mainamo ya keno 
tvabua me koitvagana 

Would 1 were with my magic one. 
now unscented I sleep 
dark skinned, my magic one. 

wa btvauuane, ua da ila 
mane gaiobura si latu 
kada keno mulo mulolazca 
zvabua me koiuagana 

you call in vain, you may return homeward, 
where in Gaiobura do they anchor 
our lying sweet odoured 
dark skinned my magic one. 

The woman refers to her lover in terms of his love magic, sweet- 
scented Koiwaga. He is on the sea or anchored at Gaiobura. She 
repulses other wooers. 


mzcaneio ya ileilenarva 
Seduna be u dedoi 
dune be u de udedoi 

your wife 1 send back there to you 
Seduna for your wailing 
you see and wail, wail 

u gelu yau u dorodoro 
Samaroa sinadiao 
sabi ai si dedoi 
Seduna be u dedoi 

embark and come to sea 
Sanaroa mothers, 
wishing to marry they wail 
and you Seduna wail 

A man is going to Bwaioa, from Sanaroa Island. He embarks 
his sister’s daughter intending to take her away from her husband, 
Seduna, and marry her off more satisfactorily in Bwaioa. Seduna 

A Batch of Dance Songs 303 

wails so piteously on the shore that his wife is returned to him. The 
song taunts him by saying that the mothers of this place wailed because 
they couldn’t go off to marry as the traveller’s sister’s daughter was 
to go off and marry elsewhere ; and Seduna wailed with the mothers 
(i.e. older women). Of course these older women did no such thing — 
the song is merely a way of calling Seduna an old woman. 

via do ila via do ila 
tuaga i lopupunaia 
Suyalai viado ila 

sima lasai i laia 
uiabuwa lumadiega 
ya tauia besomaia 
Suyalai wa do ila 


you may return you may return 
the canoe is broken in pieces 
you may return to Suyolai 

the reef broke it in pieces 
from its dark breast 
I go aimlessly 

You may return to Suyalai. 


tana ku ilenama 
tutiina lasa malele 
igu etabu 
tana ku ilenama 

my pouch you return to me 
the waves break pounding 
my etabu 

my pouch you return to me 

diuiana lovieboda 
yalebe sinebuiaina 
ku yamaviagu 
ta da taona 
igu etabu 
tana ku ilenama 

he closed the pouch with magic within it 
Yalebe, most beautiful woman 
you await me 

we shall come round to you 
my etabu 

my pouch you return to me. 

Etabu is the relationship between two men, who interchange 
their sweethearts temporarily. As the song says they will also share 
such a thing as a pouch containing love magic. 


to viaga btvaina Sana a fine canoe it was 

Basima lobuninaia capsized by Basima 

i lobulobuninaia blown over, blown over. 

koianiya kenokeno the hill lay there 

Waibudo kaniyana rain fell for Waibudo 

Yaloa si delideli the clouds rushed over it 

Basima Lobuninaia capsized by Basima. 

Waibudo is the name of the canoe owner. 


Yawaula bviogabviogaia 



the wind blows fitfully between calms 
on the sea deep Yawaula. 
the wind blows fitfully 

manueda ta yalilitca 
MeKenaia patalidi 
kadi nea gviarumumuna 
Gogom ulitalie 

gently gently paddling 
fleet of Kenaia. 

their paddles hurl back the swishing water 
Gogom, the wind fitful. 

Dobuan war canoes meet at sea. The fleet of Kenaia village is 
returning exhausted and quietly after ravaging the coast of Duau. 

304 Appendix VI 

The other war canoe, Gogom of Nekumara village, is going out fresh 
with strong paddling. 

to simbteoitia sana 
u gimi aluenaia 
u alualuetuda 


since she was a beauty 
you first abducted her 
you abducted her. 

ya tanatana goguKua 
tana i yomutnuram 
u gimi aluenaia 
to sinebteaina sana 

So your basket is shut 
your basket stays with you 
you first abducted her. 
since she was a beauty. 

The song refers to a runaway marriage. The groom and his 
people have “ kept their baskets shut ”, i.e. not made any exchanges 
of arm-shells or spondylus shell necklaces to validate the marriage. 
This song "was presumably originally a way of scoring off people 
so mean. 

tau da gteaie sinana 
Yatoaula goyuyua 
ora goyuyua 


a man must tell the mother. 
Yawaula is cold 
a deep sea and cold. 

tai ketaa yasilai 
Kaburigu i da mia be 
i da kamtoadoiyegu 
Yatoaula goyuyxux 
tau da gteaie sinana 

the slain man is brought back 
O that Kaburigu might remain 
and mourn me, dying before him. 
Yawaula is cold 
a man must tell the mother. 

Over the cold sea, Yawaula, a man, Kaburigu, is brought home 
slain to his mother. 


Dahu i doedoe 
Ted i masalaia 
Dobu i doedoe 

the Dobu floats 
Ted crys out all night 
the Dobu floats. 

” Netiane ” btoaulaga 
Dinda tai butu 
kabi Ubulibuye 
Dobu i doedoe 

" Netiane ” he called shorewards. 
Ginger a fine fellow, 
caught by some rubbish, 
the Dobu floats. 

Ted was the white owner of a schooner named the Dobu; 
Netiane, otherwise called Ginger (Dinda) was the native skipper in 
chaise of the native crew, but under Ted’s orders. The song records 
Ted’s c^ing out ail night for his skipper, who was on shore caught 
by rubbbh, i.e. strange women. 

This collection of songs, t<^ether with those discussed in the 
body of the book, will give a fair idea of the range of subject matter 
and of style in the dance songs of Dobu. There are numberless 
songs composed by individuals annotmeing that they feel sick, unroll 
a mat, let them lie down, and so on ; or re marking that they were 
stung by nettles in the Trobriands — an announcement that is cryptic 
in the absence of further gossip, since it may be literally intended 
or a figurative reference to the Trobrianders. Even in such songs 
there is usually a line referring to some less personal fact of the-wind- 

A Batch of Dance Songs 305 

is-rustling-in-the-trees type. Very many songs die a quick death. 
Those I have given are not of the rapidly evanescent variety. They 
have been approved, used in dancing, and sung about the villages 
and the seas. But evanescence in Dobuan songs is only a matter of 
degree. Old songs die out of favour and remembrance, except 
a few, of which “ I go inland to Bwebweso ”, etc., and “ Woman of 
the North-East Wind, ” etc. are types — songs embodied in the 
traditions concerning the spirits of the dead. The ethnologist cannot 
gamer the best songs of Dobu derived from centuries of song-making 
history, but only the best contemporary songs, for the value of a song 
is felt as greatest if it is good and new. The dance itself is probably 
as old as anything in Dobu ; the form of the dance song is probably 
equally old. But through that form there flows in a continual current 
of contemporary comment. Cannibal songs and war songs alone 
cannot be composed anew now, and some of these will probably be 
retained over many generations. 

Appendix VII 


In this volume I have with intent not dealt with language and 
legends or with material culture. Without intent I have not said 
all that might have been said. As instances of omission that occur 
to me there is the old custom by which the recovered corpse of a 
fellow slain in war is erected on a platform in a coco-nut palm top 
right in the village. There the corpse decays, and cannot be taken 
down until the corpse of an enemy, of one of the enemy responsible 
for the death, is brought into the village for eating. 

There is again the initiation of the boy as a warrior. He is taken 
out alone and told to climb a tree to a height of about 12 feet. 
A bristling fence of vertical 7 feet spears, too wide to jump out 
over, is erected beneath him, butts on the ground, points beneath 
him. He is told to jump on to the spear-points. He does not know 
the point of the ceremony, unless it is that he must jump to his death. 
Many boys refused to jump, it is said. Some did as they were so 
imperatively and solemnly urged to do. As the boy jumped on to 
the spear-points, the entire fence of spears was jerked down from 
the vertical to the horizontal by a concealed device so that the boy 
had no more than a bad fall and a shaking. He was then admonished 
to tell none of the uninitiated youngsters. 

Of these customs I know the bare outline only. I know that 
there must be other points that I have not made, but they are of such 
slight character as may be dealt with in an occasional article or two 
at a later date. I have given the great body of the culture, with the 
exceptions noted. I have omitted also reference to my knowledge 
of surrounding cultures, with the exception of Basima, which I have 
treated briefly. Some Dobuan custom extends far. The paranoid- 
like fear of sorcery from the ownership of greater wealth than ones’ 
fellows extends along the south coast of New Guinea, it would appear, 
from a reference to it in the Annual Reports.^ It occurs amongst 
the Motu, 400 miles to the west. It would appear to have a range 
comparable in extent to that of vada. 

It has not been my aim to open hypotheses or theoretical points, 
but to add to our knowledge of an area from which we have already 
a stout body of studies; on the Trobriands from B. Malinowski, 
on Goodenough Island from D. Jenness, on Rossel Island frorn 
W. Armstrong, on the Orokaiva of the adjoining north-east coast 
of the mainland from F. E. Williams, and on the different peoples 
of the adjoining south and south-east coast of the mainland from 
C. G. Seligman and from B. Malinowski. 

> Report on British Netc Guinea for year ending 20th June, 1912, pp. 99-100. 



Aberrancy, 248 
Ability, distrust of, 176 
Abortion, 239 f., 246, 273, 299 
Accidents, due to witchcraft, 150 
Acting, II 

Ad^atu (place), 34, 35 
Adcress, rules for, 14 
Administration, effects of, 30, 62, 
tS7> 241, 287 ; and witchcraft, 
166, 167, 288 ff. ; see also Govern- 

Admiralty Islands, 39, 40 ; economic 
exchanges, 165, 206 ; healing 

magic, 1 14 ; sex life, 248, 278 ; 
witchcraft, 157 

Adolescence, of youths, 275 f. ; 
of girls, 276 

Adoption, 17, 20, 86 ; supeinatural, 

Adultery, 7, 49, 50-2, 6i, 62, 77, 
79. 90. 92, 135, 192, 247, 277 ; 
co-operative, 67, 133, 247, 300; 
sentiments regarding, 78, 91, 242, 

Adze, inheritance of, 18 ; use of, 

Affinal relationship terms, 37 
Age, death never attributed to, 81 
Aged, respect for the, 84 
(prefix), 67 
at epwepuiopwo, 29 
ai lobukuTus, 29 
Akasaoleole (charm), 168 
Albinism, 248 
Alliance, principle of, 35 
Alo, bewitching of, 156 ; illegal 
marriage of, 85 

Amphlett Islands, 182, 218, 225 ; 
dancing, 250 ; Dobuans in, 15 1 ; 
and the kula ring, 202 f., zo8 
Amuck, running, 54, 163, 248, 295 
Anabuyueta (legendary character), 


Ancestors, 98, 99, 163 ; as birds, 95 ; 

graves of, i, 2 ; spirits of, 178 
Ancestress, mythological, 31 
Ancestry, traced through females, 3 ; 

legendary, 31, 35 
one (plant), 123, 186, 226 
Anointing of body, 128, 230, 254, 276 
Ante-natal magic, 1 1 5 
Antiaris toxicaria (poisonous plant), 

, *72 

Anuabada (place), 265 
Arctic madness, 287 
Arm-shells, as marriage gift, 1 89 ; 
as sexton’s fee, 194 ; trade in, 
202 f., 214 

asa kopuana, 194 

Ascendant relatives, terms for, 37, 
39. 40, 41 

Assonance, 252 f., 256 

“ Bad " significance of, 136, 177 
bagi (shell necklace), 214, 224, 230 
bagura (garden), 139 
bake (obscene invective), 79, 244 f. 
Bananas, cultivation of, 105 ; as 
gifts, 156, 190 

Banks Islands, burial custom in, 115 
barau (sorcerer), 151 
Barrenness : see Sterility 
Barter, 208 : see also Kula 
bast, 234 

Basima (on Normanby Island), 116, 
123, 141, 218 ; dancing, 250 ; 
dialect, 260 ; organization and 
magic, 280 ff. 

Bastards, 67, 238, 239 
Bathing, ceremonial, 228 f. 

Bats, fear of, 153 

Beach-combers, native, 70, 74, 79, 


Beauty, charming for, 218 f. 

Beggary, due to improvidence, 70 
Betel-nut, as betrothal gift, 26, 189 ; 
buried with the dead, 186, 193 ; 
charm for, 142, 218 ; magic 

acquisition of, 181 
Betrothal, 24, 63, 102 f. ; of children, 
29. 60, 74 
bilubilu (plant), 122 
binama (hombill), 139 
Bird of Paradise, 302 
Birds, as embodied spirits, in, 113 ; 
legendary origin, 220 ; meta- 
morphosis, 94 f. ; as totem, 31, 32, 

Birth control, 240 f. ; see also 

Black art, 133-177, 254, 280 f. ; 
in dissolution of marriage, 192 ; 
oflScial attitude towards, 288 ff. ; 
see also Magic ; Sorcery ; Witch- 

Black satin bird, 255 
Blasphemy, 161 ; in use of names, 

Bleeding, 63 

Blood relationship, terms of, 37 
Blood transfusion, magical, 16 
hobo’ ana (desirable), 176 
Boils, 144 

Bolapas (mythological character), 31 
bomagu, 233 n. 
bomama, 108, 222, 233 n. 


3o8 Index 

bomana, 233 n. 
bonu (ulcers), 144 
Boundary Catchers, no, 113 
Boundary Man, 14, i6, 17, 38, 53, 
57, 58, 72, 196, 279 ; marriage, 
28 ; as spell-teacher, 148 
Boyowans : see Trobrianders 
Boys, forbidden to sleep at home, 10, 
21 ; training of, 275 ff. ; initiation 
as soldiers, 306 : see also Youths 
Bread-fruit tree, 197 
Bride-price, 98, 189 
Brothers, and magic, 16, 17, 97, 232 ; 
terms for, 37 

Brother-sister relationship, 8, 10, 

35, 38, 62, 72, 278 

Brown Eagle, spirit double of, 126 ; 

totemic ancestor, 31 
Budibudi, Bay of, 124 
budobudo (poisonous plant), 170 f., 
174, 240, 298 

Buleima (variety of yam), n6 
Bulela (first planter of yams), in, 
113, ns, 117, ”9, t25, 126 
Bunelala (legendary character), 99, 
118, 282 

Burial alive, 179 

Burial customs, n, 68, 115, 193, 257, 
277 ; in Basima, 281 
Burning of leaves spell, 109, 121, 
122, 125, 128 

Bush clearing, 104, 105, 109, 127, 223 
Bush creeper, charmed, 81, 142, 147, 
150, 154, 168 f. ; personality of, 

butubutu, 146 
Bwai, to diviner, 156, 164 
Bwaidogu (place), 265 
bwaima (house platform), 227 
Bwaioa (neighbouring island), 86, 
136, 156, 159, 185, 198, 207, 218, 

Bwakela (place), 142 
btealogo (rock limpet), 143 
btoanakupwa, 190 
btvanatoe, 31 

Bwai^waiyoyo (wind goddess), 212 f. 
Bwaruada (neighbouring place), 259 
Bwebweso (abode of Jie dead, on 
Normanby Island), 12, 143, 180 f., 
186 f., 237 f., 256, 263, 277, 302 ; 
meaning of word, 187 
bwebtcesala (sea-bird), 261 
bwobwore (sexton’s perquisite), 194 ff. 
bviokwnatana (divination term), 155, 
156, 158 

buioTabteora (variety of banana), 190 

Calophyllum inophyllum, ^122 n. 
Cannibalism, 61, 77, 80, 90, 302, 306 
Canoe, 213 ; charming of, 97, 216 ; 
its impersonahty, 133 ; inheritance 
of, 18 

Cerbera odollam (poisonous plant), 
171 f., 175, 240, 287, 298 

I Ceremony, 76 

I Charms, antithesis in, 142 ; involved, 
227 ; teaching to children, 274. 
See also Incantations ; Spells 
Child-birth, 246, 273 
Children, betrothal, 29, 60, 74 ; 

burial, 257 ; inheritance, 3, 13, 57 ; 
influence on kula, 228 ; and magic, 
15, 71 ; and mourning, ii ; 

punishment, 64 ; relationship with 
parents, 3, 18, 20, 57, 71, 82 ; 
terms for, 37 ff. ; truant, 73 
Cockatoo, as totem, 32, 34 
Coco-nut, in abode of spirits, 187 ; 
in kula ritual, 225 ; milk compared 
with semen, 238 ; oil, 128, 230 ; 
private ownership of, 79 
Coco-nut frond, spell of the, 138, 142, 


Coco-nut palm, charm for, 142 
Collaterals, terms for, 37 
Communal labour, 103 f., I20 
Community : see Village, organization 

Competition, 176 
Complexion, 248 
Cook, male, 190, 192 
Cook Islands, fire walking in, 115 
Cooking, ceremonial, 190 
“ Copyright,” in songs, 251, 261 
Cosmetics, 215, 276 
Cordyline terminalis, 114, 115 
Coriphilus fringillacetis, as totem, 32 ff. 
Corporal punishment, dread of, 65 
Corpse, disposal of, il, 68, 193 f., 
257> Z77> 306 ; inheritance of, 
8 ff. ; and lice, 181 ; of murdered 
person, 180 ; twitching, 155 
Corpulence, 248 

Coughing, superstition concerning, 

Counter-magic, 100, I02, 128 f., 
»43 ff- 

Courtesy, 151 ; terms, 35 
Cousins, terms for, 37 
Crab, in spell-binding, 169 
Creation, theories of, 94 f., 98 
Crime, punishment of, 78, 288 f. 
Cripples, 177 

Crops, 94, 1 18, 129, 131 ; inheritance 
of, 18 

Cross-cousins, 14, 37, 38 ; and 

boundary man, 16, 17, 73 ; and 
magic, 86 ; marriage between, 27, 
28, 59, 60, 73, 79 
Croton, in graveyards, i, 115, 250 
Crow, as totem, 33, 34 
Crystal gazing, 154, 298 

dadabwa (snake), 296 

Daloyos (mythological character), 31 

Dance songs, 250 f., 300 f. 

Dancing, 92, 250 f., 283, 303 ; in 
Basima, 283 ; and divination, 165 ; 



exchanges at, 193 f. ; and kula, 221, 
230; mourning, ii, 187 
Darubia (place), 139, 141 
Daughter-in-law, pre-nuptial duties, 

Dead, spirits of the, 114, 178 f. ; j 
legend of the, 182 f. I 

DeaA, 4, 10, 133, 147, 155, 277 ; 
gifts following, 18 ; legendarj' 
origin, 186 ; resulting name 
changes, 37 ; never naturS, 81, 97, 
135, 150 ; restoration from, 
8g, 90, 162, 284 f. ; sudden, 286 
Dede (place), 267 ; hot-springs legend, 

Deformed persons, 136, 176 f. 
Delirium, 154 
Delousing, 50, 90, 219 
Derris (a poison), 50, 174, 298 
Descendant relatives, terms for, 37, 
39. 42 

Dialects, 258 

didila (charm), 138, 142, 145 f. 
didina (charm), 142, 145 
Dig^g stick, 1 16, 120 
Dij^taria sanguinalis, 89 
Dilia (place), 142, 143, 218 
Dilikaiai (place), 268 
dinegua (bird), 302 
Disease, 76, 128, 133, 135 ; charms 
and exorcisms, 80, 82, 93, 97, 
126, 137 f., 14s f., 149 ; demons 
of, 144 ; introduced, 136, 138 
Disembowelment, magical, 162, 175 
Diu (place), 142 

Divination, 8, 30, 45, 150 f., 154-66, 
17s. 177 f., 275, 289, 298 ; in 
Basima, 282 f. 

Divorce, 3, 15, 45, 49, 82, 91, 191, 
277 ; for inefficient gardening, 

1 19 ; in neighbouring communities, 

.9 . 

diwai belong tamberan (shrub), 115 
Dobu Island, size and character, 

18 ; canoes, 213 ; in kula ring, 
202 f. ; unwritten literature, 92 ; 
population, 30, 240 ; poverty, 

60, 103 ; Trobrianders in, 74 
Dobuans, character, 15, 56, 136 ; 
legendary origin, 31 ; and sea- 
faring, 2H 

Dog, as companion, 267 ; legendary, 
99, 227, 270 f. 

Dokanikani (ogre), r8i 

Domdom Island, magic origin, 265 

Doubles, in magic, 126 f., 144, 146 f- 

Doweta (place), 142 

Dreams, i8i 

Driftwood, 1 23 

Drought, 131, 132 

Drum, 221, 250 ; legend of, 222 

Duau : see Normanby Island 

Duels, between women, 44, 248 

dugumalala (funerary feast), 187 

Duntna MoUgogona (charm), 168 I 

Dutuna (place), 146 
Dysentery, 136 

Eagle, as disease demon, 144 ; see also 
Brown Eagle 
Ear-piercing, 274 
Earth-Back : see Magic Peg 
Earth-Belly : see Pouring, Place of 
Eating, 74, 226 f. ; see also Food ; 

’Ebadidi (Fergusson Isl.), 142 
ebicaimna (part of incantation), 227 
Economic system, 189-234 ; its 
importance, 191 

Education, to combat sorcery, 293 
Edugaura (locality), 32, 34, 35 
egoyainina (part of incantation), 227 
egurewa (metamorphosis), 94 
ekekwaro (gifts), igo 
eketosika (garden boundary’), no 
ektcasi (food), 190 

Elephantiasis, supposed cause of, 297 ; 
charms and tabus, 80, 138 ; demon, 

Elopement, 78 
eloviaila, 109 

emanua (metamorphosis), 94 

Emetics, 50 

Enai’a (locality), 33, 35 

Endogamy, 30 

Enemies, and marriage, 36 

Engagement ; see Betrothal 

Entrances (in garden-magic), 122-5 

enunulatui (contracting a disease), 143 

Epidemics. 138 

esaesa (rich man), 214 

Escort, as witchcraft protection, 77 

etabu, 303 

Eugenia malaccensis, 197 n. 
Exchanges, economic, 25, 26, 28, 43, 
60, 69, 77, 102, 165, 205 f., 232 ; 
at death and mourning, 193 f. ; 
harvesting, 106 ; marital, 25 f., 
193 f. ; overseas, see Kula ; of 
water, 206 

Exoecaria Agallocha (tree), 239, 298 
Excreta, 150 
Exogamous marriage, gi 
Exorcism, 80, t44 f. ; teaching of, 
148 ; see also Charms ; Incanta- 
tions ; Spells 

Face paint, 276 ; in trade, 207, 214 
Familiars, 178 
Family, 4, 75, 277 f., 280 
Fasting, 295 

Father, relationship with offspring, 
3. 5. IS. 277 f- : at burial, 193 ; 
excluded from deceased wife’s 
village, 13 ; inheritance and, 2 ; 
name changing on death, 38 f. 
Father-daughter love, 278 
Father-in-law, and marital exchanges, 

Father-right, 20 

310 Index 

Father-sister-right, 20 
Fear, 23, 74, 99, 113, 137, 141. 149, 
151 f., 163, 170, 208 
Fergusson Isl., 114, 141 f., 151, 186, 
207 f. ; dancing, 250 ; yam houses, 

Feuds, spells in, 147, 157, 175, 299 ; 
see also Vendetta 

Fidelity, marital, 6, 76, 79 ; means of 
ensuring, 244 ; rareness of, 249, 


Fiji, fire walking in, 1 15 
Fire, origin of, 95, 99, 263, 295 ; 
method of producing, 296 ; see also 

Fire walking, 115 

First fruits, 31, 115, 123 ; month of, 

Fish, 70, 97, 104 ; legendary origin, 
266 ; marriage gift, 190 ; at 
mourning feast, 196 ; poisonous, 
170, 174 ; as totem, 36 
Fishers, a despised class, 70 
Fishing net, inheritance of, 18 
Food, customs and rules concerning, 
58, 64, 66 f., 74, 137, 170, 189 f., 
196, 228 ; ceremonial eating at 
marriage, 26, 74, 192 ; gift for 
garden work, 120 ; see also Eating ; 

Footprints, 150 
Foster parents, 17 
Free love, 29 

Friendships, 67, 137 ; a cause of 
suspicion, 153 

Funeral ceremonies, 10, 38 ; see also 
Burial ; Corpse 

Gabuwana (coral reef), 219, 222, 
226, 229, 262 
Gadimotu (strait), 268 
Gaiobura (place), 302 
Gangosa, supposed cause of, 126, 
142 ; charms and exorcisms for, 
80, 113, 138 f-. t4t. 145 f- 
Garden magic, 70 f., 82 f., 104, 1 1 1 f., 
133 f., 282, 29s, 299 ; passed from 
father to child, 118 
Gardening, co-operative, 103, 120 ; 

time for, 108, 127 ; jealousy in, 135 
Gardens, 94-132 ; customs con- 
cerning, 7S ; inheritance of, 18, 
69 f. ; lay-out, no; privacy, 
104 ff. ; protection, 83, 201 ; 

ritual, 94 ff., 106 ff., 129, 222 ; in 
Basima, 282 
Garea (place), 143 
gau, in magic, 162 
geboboi (hold of canoe), 124, 216, 

224 f., 228 

gelaboi (sea witch), 153 ff., 165, 178 ; 

(variety of yam), 112 
Genealogj', 3, 9, 31 
Gifts, betrothal, 26, 63 ; funerary, 
18; wedding: see Exchanges 

ginehwabvjaba (female homosexuality), 

Ginger, in magic, 142, 162, 170, 213, 
224, 295 

Girls, chastisement of, 64 ; and pre- 
nuptial intercourse, 10, 21, 25, 
29, 239, 241 f., 248, 276 
Giuri (place), 142 
Globe fish, poisonous, 170, 174 
God, reputed equivalent of, 113 
gomdkara (monitor lizard), 221 f. 
Gomakarakedakeda (necklace of 
legend), 218 ff. 

Gomanumusa yam, 124 
Gomayawa (the Pleiades), 219 
“ Good,” significance of, 136, 177 
Goodenough Isl., dancing in, 250, 
283 n. 

Goose-flesh, demon of, 144 
garto (magic “ medicine ”), 284 
gosiagu, 35 

Government, native, 83 f. ; white, 
3, 104, 160, 274; see a/io Adminis- 

Grandmother yams, 122, 126 
Grass skirt, 68, 78 ; as personal 
term, 64, 245 
Grave-digger, 194 
Graveyard, i, 4, 68, 115 
Green Parrot, totemic ancestress, 31 ; 

garden magic of clan, 1 1 8 
Greenstone, trade in, 202, 207 ; in 
kula ritual, 225 
gu (suffix), 67 
Guiaboga (place), 268 
Gumasila (island), 150, 221 
Gumawana (in the Amphletts), 218, 
221, 267 

Gums, inflammation of, 144 
gurewa, 94 
Gurewaiya (islet), 219 

Hair-cutting, 50 

Harvest, 75, 105 f., 129 ; and dancing, 
250, 283 ; a festival of death, 18 ; 
time of, 127, 223 ; in Basima, 283 
Heat, in magic, 295 f. 

Herbs, in garden ritual, 129 ; in 
magic, 298 f. 

Hemandia peltata, 122 n. 

Hibiscus, in divination, 154 
Hill Man, sorcery of, 158 f., 174, 

Hill of the Rocks charm, 112, 115 
Homosexuality, 243 f. 

Hookworm, 161 ; demon of, 144 ; 
tabus for, 138 

Hombill, spirit double of, 126, 139, 

Hospitality, 215 

House, privacy of, 4, 278 ; disposal 
after death, 4, ii, 195 ; for 
marriage or storage only, 21 
House Platform, Place of the, no, 
116, 119, 122; see also Bwaima 


Husband, not wife’s co-villager, 2 ; 
garden work of, 105 f. ; jealousy, 
7, 104, 247 f. ; terms for, 37 
Hypnotism, in magic and sorcery, 
162 f., 284 f. ; see also Vada 

lagaina Isl., legendary origin of, 265 

ipt (prefix), 67 

igu esoi, 67, 141, 300 

igu kaizie, 299 

i guguia, 84 

Illness, 77 ; see also Disease ; 

Sick Persons 
Immortality, 99, 178, 187 
Improvidence, 69, 74, 83 
Incantations, 74, 77 f., 83, 95, 99, 
122, 138 f., 168 f., 181 ; for disease 
and healing, 143, 150, 295 ; fear 
of, U3, 140 f. ; on kula, 224 ff. ; 
secrecy of, 107, 124 ; teaching of, 
147 f. ; theft of, 107 ; trade in, 
96, too, 229, 231 ; for winds, 
211, 213, 295 

Incest, 57, 61, 243, 278 ; of co- 
villagers, 7, 27, 49, 69, 90, 269 ; 
in folklore, 90 ; in marriage, 29, 44 
Incompatibility, superstition con- 
cerning, 16 

Incontinence, charms and tabus for, 
80, 138, 144 

Indentured labour, 51, 62, 71, 96, 
103, 240, 277 
Infancy, 274 

Infants, unwanted, 60 ; training of, 


Influenza, 136 

Inheritance, laws of, 2, 8, 13 ff., 
18, 28, 38, 40, 60, 62, 73, 82 ; 
of magic, 17, 40, 82 ; of names, 
13 f., 38, 40 ; of seeds and crops, 
18, 69, 72 

“ In-laws,” 278 ; see also “ Those- 
resulting-from-marriage ” 

Insane persons, treatment of, 53 
Insults, 79, 201, 234, 244, 249, 283 
Intestinal disease, charm for, 80 ; 

demons of, 144 
Invalids : see Sick Persons 
Invisibility, charm for, 78, 162, 167 f. 
Islands, legendary origin of, 265 

Janibos malaccensis, 197 n. 

Jealousy, connubial 6 f., 77, 91, 104, 
134, 247 f. ; between brothers, 
16 ; of possession, 135, 210 
Jests, obscene, 238 
Joking relationships, 245 
Justice, in divination, 164 ; native 
ideas of, 167 

katana (miraculous fire), 99, 152, 

223, 231, 295 ff. 
kaiauiana (tree), 219 
kaikai (garden boundary), no, 131 n. 


kaitee (tree), 299 
kalena (part of song), 251 
Kalena Sigasiga (gangosa incantation), 

kalitabu (shellfish), 220, 268 
kamtveai (perspiration), 32 
kamagu (rain-term), 132 
kamana (rain-term), 108, 13 1 n. 
kapali (spider), 121, 125 f. 

Kapoka (place), 143, 146 
karumoi (spondylus shell), 224 ff. 
kasa sona, 99 f., 213, 237 
Kasbwaibwaileta (legendary 
character), 99 f., 216 f., 223, 229 f., 

Kasiara palm, spell of the, 125 f., 128, 

130. 134 

kastlana (perspiration), 32 
katuesiki (gift), 189 
Kauaganutu (love-charm), 236 f. 
katvagosiana, 155 

kauawerebana (witchcraft term), 45 

keaweauasina (food), 185 

Kebadidi (place), 140 

kebana (mat), 31 

kebudi (garden stick), 109 

keda (path), 221 

Kedagwaba (place), 227 

Kedatete (Tewaran village), 220 

keginae (plant), 123 

Kekewage (supernatural being), 186 f. 

kekusi (in fire production), 296 

kelamoa, 83 

kemwani (in fire production), 296 
kemviata (shrub), 186 
Kenaia (village), 303 
keno (to lie), 256 

kenoduma (cohabitation without inter- 
course), 244 

kenokinoki (a game), zzo 
kenolua (cohabitation), 244 
ketomatasekera (tree), 239 
Kibi (constellation), 219, 223 
Kidneys, 140 
Kilakila, as totem, 34 
Kinship : see Relationship 
Kitava Isl., 211, 213 
Koiakutu, the Hill of Lice, 181 
Koita (tribe), 284 
Koiwaga (in love-magic), 237 
Koiyawabu (place), 140, 142 
koktca gate, 32 
kokoko (fish), 266 
Kokua (place), 227, 228 
Kotukotu Isl., legendary origin of, 

Koyatabu, Mt., 117, 140 f., 143, 282 
Kubwagai (Tewaran village), 46, 

Kubwana (Venus), 223 n., 228 
Kula (overseas exchange), 131 n., 
152, 169, 189, 198, 237, 277 ; 
magic ritual of, 209, 215, 221 f., 
262, 295 ; non-economic character, 
205 ; compared with potlatch, 234 ; 

312 Index 

sharp practice in, see Wabuwabu ; 
time of, 201, 223 
Kulada (place), 142 
Kulia (variety of yam), 125, 128 
Kuloia (bird), 224 
kune (= kula), 224, 226 
kunukttnuwana (garden boundary), 
no, 131 n. 

kunututu (sexton’s perquisite), 194 
kusikusinetara (snake), 183 
Kuyagas (variety of yam), 216 
Kwaluia Isl., legendary origin of, 265 
kttiatea (plant), 282 
Kwato (place), 265 
Kwatobwa (place), 268 
kioesi (marriage gift), 98, 189, 270 

lakua (crab), 169 

Lalaiya (Tewaran village), 220 

lamalama (plant), 215, 229, 237 

lamoa, 83, 93 

Lamona (place), 140, 142 

lamusi (sail), 21 1 

Land, inheritance of, 8 f. ; legendary 
origin, 266 

Leaves, charmed, 237 
Legends, 92, 95, 98, 119, 136, 262 ff. ; 
totemic, 31 

legiagia (a shore-bird), 147 
Legumatabu Isl., legendary origin of, 

lelebuyo, 226 

Lesopi Isl., legendary origin of, 265 
Liana, poison from, 174 
Lice : see Corpse, Delousing ; 


Limpets, spirit doubles of, 126 ; use 
in magic, 143 
lo (prefix), 138 

lobinama (hombill), 139, 141, 146 
lobonu (ulcers), 144 
lobutobuto (leg “ asleep ”), 144 
lobwaloga (tertiary yaws), 143 
lobteebwai (disease), 144 
Local units, 30 

Locality, 72 ; arrangement of, 32 ; 
disunion in, 34 ; endogamy of, 30, 

logaga (disease), 144 
logau (spell of invisibility), 162, 168 
logumo (disease), 144 
lotaio (disease), 144 
loiawe (pre-nuptial intercourse), 242, 

lokwalatca (disease), 144 
Mas (exorcising spells), 144 f. 
lolawa (bods), 144 
lomagaviau (disease), 144 
lomague (swelling), 143 
lomolo (incontinence of semen), 144 
lomtvata (flying snake), 147 
losakasakalulu (goose-flesh), 144 
losaktcara (hookworm), 144 
losiUa (paralysis), 146 
Lousing : see Delousing 

Love, 30 ; incantations for, 97, too, 
102, 235 f., 276 
Love song, 260 
lovjana (tree), 139 f. 

Lusancay Islands, 124, 132, 212 
luugu (an Entrance), 122 

Madalabuna Isl., legendary origin of, 

Magibweli (cave in Tewara), 146 
Magic, antinomy in, 125 ; bestowal 
of, 16 ; for disease, 80, 113, 126, 
137 ff., 149 ; enticement of yams, 
see Yams ; faith in, 149 ; fear of, 
113, 149: fees for, 17, 129, 135, 
ISS, 171 ; hypnotic, 162 f., 284 ff. ; 
inheritance of, 17, 40, 85 f., 

13s. 171 > in the kula, 210 f. ; 
validate by legend, 262 ; 
materiality, 15 ; public, 123 ; 
secrecy of, 100 ; and sexual inter- 
course, 134 : its social value, 171 ; 
sympathetic, 287 ; teaching of, 15, 
71. 147 f. : in theft, 136 ; “ trying 
out,” 134 ; for winds, 97, 102, 124, 


Mapc Peg, Place of the, no, 112 f. 
magilode (betel palm), 220 
Magisewa (Tewaran village), 220 
Magnas Bravos (poisonous plant), 172 
mague (shellfish), 143 
Mailu (tribe), 285 

Maiwortu, the dramatized widower, 
II, 13, 256 
Maize : see Tabuwara 
makamakaiau (spirit double), 147 
Malaria, demon of, 144 ; spell for, 80 
mana, 233 n. 

Mango tree, l^end concerning, 263 ff. 
majtua (bird), 94 

Manus, of the Admiralties, 39 f., 165 
Marital grouping ; see Susu 
Marriage, 21-30, 103, 222, 248, 278 ; 
survey of system, 51 f. ; between 
(i) Boundary Man and Owner, 
59 f., (2) co-villagers, 7, 17, 58, 
60, 69. 79. (3) enemies, 36, (4) 
relations, 6, 28, (5) strangers, 20 f., 
86, 153, 193, and (6) in the same 
totem, 35 ; disagreements in, 6, 
43-52, 119; dissolution, 49 (jee also 
Divorce) ; economic exchanges, 
43. 74. to2, 189 ff. ; enforced, 22 ; 
impermanence of, 6, 51 f., 278 ; 
jealousy in, see Je^ousy ; pro- 
hibited degrees, 27, 249; not a 
pnvate matter, 191 ; parental 
rights over, 102 ; repeated, 9 ; 
safeguards in, 76, 77, 79 ; should 
be self-supporting, 60 ; wabuviabu, 


Marshall Bennet Islands, 201 f. 
Massim, burial custom among, 115 
nMtabora (mourning prohibition), 185 
Maternal ancestors, graves of, i 

Index 313 

Matrilineal marriage, discouraged, a8 
Meals, customs concerning, 25, 74, 
2 z8 ; see also Eating ; Food 
Measles, 136 

Medicine men, 77, too, 138 
Megarewa (the ^y-people), 220 
Memory, charm for, 148 
memuied (shellfish), 220 
Meningitis, demon of, 144 ; spell for, 

Metamorphosis, 94 f., 98 
miaetoaetoara (mourning feast), 196 
Micturation, 247 

Missions, effect of, 30, 104, 106, 113, 
159 f., 241 f., 274, 287 
moata (snake), 139 
Mokakasi (charm), 168 f. 

Monitor lizard, 217, 221 ff. 
monolaiea (variety of yam), 112 
Monsoon, 132, 259 
Moon, salutation of, 228 
Mother-child affection, 15, 277 
Mother-in-law, and daughter’s be- 
trothed, 22 ; and marital exchanges, 
192 ; privileges of, 63, 74 ; sus- 
pected of witchcraft, 92, 153 ; 

tribute from widower, 156 
Mother, right, 3, 17, 19 f., 68 
Mothers, uiunarri^, 239 
Mother’s brother’s right, 20, 64 
Mourning, 4, 10, 78, iSS. *94. *54 f- 
badge of, 12 ; exchanges, 23, 193 f. ; 
song of, 2SS 
Mumugwa (vUlage), 238 
Murdered person, disposal of corpse, 

Murderer, magical punishment of, 179 
murimuri, t97 

Murua (Woodlark Island), 119, 220, 
229 ; canoes of, 2t3 ; in the kula 
ring, 201 f. ; occupations, 213 
Murua octopus charm, 117, 1J9, 126 
muyoi yam, 124 
mteadi (ginger), 170 
Mwagoru (tree), 197 
tmcagura (mourning badge), 12, 194 
iBHKjfi (armshells), 139, 214, 224 
mmamuiasipa (variety of yam), 1 1 2 
tmoamna (spouse), 63 
Mwaniwara (East Point, Tewara), 12, 
146, 220, 229, 256 
Mwatiua (place), 268 
mviedole (fish), r24 
mteeia (first fruits), 31 f, 

Nabana (place), 146 
Nabelit (supernatural being), 282 
Nakedness, 274 , 

Names, in charms, 227 ; disuse of 
deceased’s, 31 f- ; inheritance of, 
r3, 38, 40 n. ; multiplicity of, 32 ; 
use of personal, 62-8, 5, 13 f-t 
24, 3r f., 100, Ii3f., 129, 141 : Pto- 
tective of trees, 82, 93 : of 
supernatural beings, 99, 113, 129 

nana (garden boundary), no, 13 r n. 
nanoa (launching lo^), 226 f. 

Navel, as relationship term, 64, 73 
Nebagieta (supernatural being), 140, 

Nebubunebuero (supernatural being), 
1 14, 123, t2S f., t30 
Necklaces, trade in, 202 f. 

Nedaonara Isl., legendary origin of, 

Negigimoia (supernatural being), 31 
Nekumara (village), 304 
Nemwadole (supernatural being), 
99 f., ti4, 123 ff-, 13? 

New Guinea, sorcery in, 153 
New Hebrides, burial custom in, 115 
rdaura (fi>od gift for garden work), 

Night, fear of, 23, 74. iS3, 2S7 
Nightmare, 24, 178, 181 
Nipuna creeper, ni, 114 ff. 

Niue, first-fruits ceremony in, 115 
idueta (marriage gift), 189 
mu lamoa (protected palm), 83 
Niwaroa CTewaran village), 220 
nokonoko (tree), 121, 125 
Normanby Island (Duau), 46, 141, 
l8t, 202, 207, 263, 303 
Nose, eaten-away, 141 f. 

Nose-boring, 268, 274 
Nothopanax (plant), 123 
Nuakekepaki, legend of, 98, 267 

Obscenity, 79, 238, 242, 244 f. 
Octopus, 117, 119, 126 
Offenders, punishment of, 53, 56, 
84. 93 

Omnipotence, possessors of, loi 
Omuri (locality), 33 f. 

Opossum, as marriage gift, 189 
Orion, 127, 223 

Ornaments, inheritance of, 18 ; in 
trade, 204 f. 

Ordeals, 15s 

Osprey, as disease demon, 144 
Overseas expeditions, 85 : see also 

“ Owners of the Village,” 5, 14. 72, 
279 ; forbidden to intermarry, 
27 ; quarrels between, 84 ; re- 
lationship terms among, 40 
Ownership, private, 79, 8t, 93 ; of 
spells, 80 

Palms, inheritance of, 8 f. ; private 
ownership, 79 
Palolo worm, 104, 123, 259 
Panamoti Isl., in the kula ring, 202 
Panamoti, Star of (Venus), 259 
Pantheon, the Dobuan, rot 
Paralysis, charm for, 80, 138, 142, 

Partnerships, in overseas exchange, 
214 f. 

Passion, crimes of, 9t 

314 Index 

Paternal ancestors, graves of, i f. 
Patrilocal marriage, 9 
Peacemaking, and exchange, 209 
Peg, in garden magic, no, 114 f., 

Penis, diviner’s power over, 298 ; 

native term for, 296 
Perjury, opinion of, 289 
Personal appearance, its importance, 


Personal property, inheritance, 18 
Personality, of impersonal objects, 
132 : see also Winds ; Yams 
Perversions, 244, 248 
Petticoat government, 74 
pies (shrub), 112, 114 f., 118, 126 
Pig, as marriage exchange, 28, 189 ; 

at mourning feast, 198 ; wild, 291 
Pig-hunting, 70, 85, 197, 295 
Piracy, 270 ; in legend, 268 f. 

Planting, 105, 109 f., n8 ff., 127, 132, 


Plants, use in magic, 298 ; poisonous, 
SO, 172, 239 

Pleiades, the, associated with 

gardening, 127, 130, 223, and with 
magic, 1 18, 220: see also 

Poetry, 252 
Poets, 251 

Poisoning, 9, 137, 150, 155, 169 f. 
Poisonous plants : see Plants 
pokala (offer of gift), 218, 224 f., 

Polygamy, 248 ; in Basima, 281, 283 
ponake (variety of banana), 190 
Population, decrease of, 6, 87 
Porcupine fish, as disease demon, 144 
Port Moresby, Papua, 202 
Possession, by spirits of animals, etc., 

Possessive affixes, 67 
Pottery, trade in, 202 ff., 207 f. 
Pouring, Place of, no, 112, 115 ff., 
119, 121 

Poverty, 60, 103 ; disgraceful if 

acknowledged, 83 ; jealousy and, 


Prayer, analogy with magic, loi 
Pregnancy, imitation of, 246 ; in- 
cantations and charms for, 96, 
241 ; hurtful spell for, 168 ; 
theories concerning, 238 ff. 

Pride, a crime, 171 ; in hula e.xchange, 

Primogeniture, and magic, 16 
Private parts, modesty concerning, 
246 f. 

Procrastination, in legend, 183 
Procreation, native theory of, 238 f. ; 

Trobriand theory, 239, 241 
Prohibited degrees, 27, 249 
Prohibitions, ritual, 222 f. 

Prope^, inheritance of, 18 ; pro- 
tection of, 81 ff., 93, 138, 143 ff. 

Prudery, 77, 242, 246 f. 

Puberty, 276 f. 

Pubic 1^, 68, 230, 246, 274 
Pumice, 124 
puri-puri (sorcery), 290 
putautaona (term in tabu), 145 f. 
pteatukviara (exchange), 192 
pwopwosa (shellfish), 219 
Pwosipwosimo (Tewaran village), 220 

Quarrels, between co-villagers, 84 f. ; 
and spouses, 6, 1 1 9 ; and magic, 

Rain-maker, 138, 214, 263, 266 ; 
cleanliness of, 132 

Rain-making, 84, 99 f., 131 n., 132, 
289, 292 
Rains, 131 

Rank, non-existent, 128 
Rape, 77, 243, 247 
Raputat (village), 216 
Reduplication, in song and speech, 

Reflection, as the ghostly self, 180 
Reincarnation, 127 n. 

Relationship terms, 36-43, 53, 62 ff., 
72 f. ; use of, 5, 13, 45 ; changes 
on death of father, 37 f. ; bwosiana, 
37 ; exam, 37 ; elaba, 73 ; eyena, 
63, 66 ; gosiam, 63 ; ina elaba, 
72 ; kedam, 37 ; kedeana, 37 f., 
41 f., 105 ; labalaba, 73 ; 

lamusiam, 63 ; latvana, 37 ; 
manena, 37 ; mono, 37 ; mtum, 
37, 42 ; Navel, 64, 73 ; neno, 
37 ; rabagu, 14 ; nibam, 37 ff., 
41 f. ; nuum, 37 f., 41 f., 44, 72, 
92 ; nuu-yaiebara-m, -yaiyumne, 
-yaiobara-na, 72 ; sim, 39 ; simna, 
37) 39) 41 f-> 7* : sim-yaeyumne, 
-yaiabara-na, 72 ; tatm, 39 ; 
tarmm, 37 ff., 41 f., 73 ; tasim, 
37 f-. 40 f., 44. 72, 105 ; tasi- 
yaiobara-m, 72, 158 ; tom-kasa, 
269 ; tubu, tubudi, 39 ; tubum, 
37 ff. ; wana, 37, 41 f., 73 ; yae- 
yumne, yaiabara, yaiebara, 72 ; 
yaiam, yaiyam, 37 f., 41 f. 
Reputations, built on magic, 134 
Residence of spouses, alternate, 2, 
4 f., 9 f.) 58, 60, 64, 75 f. ; 
exceptions, 20, 76, 86 
Resultants from marriage : see “ Those- 

Resuscitation, magical, 89, 90, 162, 
1 284 f. 

j Rhyme, absent in Dobuan poetry. 243 
i Rhythm, 252 f. 

I Ridicule, as deterrent of sorcery, 290 ; 
as punishment, 53, 56, 58, 93 
Ringworm, 30, 52, 215, 248 
Ritual, of gardens, 94 ff., 106 ff^ 
value of, 97 ; secrecy important, 

Index 315 

Rivalry, 176 

Rock, legendar}', 98 ; magic making 
of, 219 

Rossel Island, 202 

sabeliilu (flaming fire), 296 
sagali (mourning feast), 199, 250, 257 
Sago, 48, 156 ; as marriage gift, 190 ; 
at mourning feast, 196 ; trade in, 
207 f. 

sagusagu (palm), 219, 223 
Saido tree, legend of the, 87 f. 
Sailors, Dobuans as, 21 1, 213, 269 
sakivara (tree), 167 ; as disease 
demon, 1 44 

Samarai (place), 265, 292 
Samuela, legendary yam ancestress, 
H7, 120, I2S, 127 

Sanaroa (island), 194, 207, 21 1, 2i6, 
221, 225, 302 ; legendary origin of, 

sapisapi (shell), 234, 268 
Sawaiowas (place), 143 
Sawatupa (place), I2i, 125, 139, 141, 
263, 266 

Scaevola fructuscens, 215 n., 229 n., 


Scansion, of poetry, 252 f. 

Scorn, as punishment, 53, 56 
Sea, legendary origin of, 95, 98, 266 ; 

fear of, 201 ; its bitterness, 266 
Sea-water, drinking of, 300 ; in 
garden magic, 1 17, 1 19 ; in sorcery, 
161, 295 

Sea-witch : see Gelaboi 
Seafaring, 201, 210 ff. 
sebutoana (gift), 189 
Secrecy, of incantations, 95 f., too, 
128, 174 ; of ritual, toi 
Seduction, 66 f., 135, 176, 238, 247, 

Seed, inheritance of, 69 f., 102, 108, 
1 18, 120; importance of in 

marriage, 74: planting, no f., 
118 ; separate for the sexes, u8 
Segata Isl., legendary origin of, 265 
Sekaikaiawana (charm), 168 
Selewegia (place), 142 
Semen, native theory concerning, 

238 : tabus for incontinence of, 

138, 144 

Sensitive plant, 298 

Separation, temporary, of spouses, 75 

Serenading, 251 

seuseula (canoe mat), 224, 296 

Sex, native theory of, 235 ff. 

Sexes, obscurity of terminology, 41 f- 
Sexual intercourse, excessive, 7 fi> 
244 ; analogy with fire-making, 
296 ; pre-nuptial, 10, 2i, 25, 29, 
239, 241 f., 248, 276 ; secrecy 
concerning, 22 ; tabu between 
birth and weaning, 246, 273 ; 

theories concerning, 134, 238 ff. 
Shadow, in magic, 142, 180 f. 

Shame, 242, 246 f. 

Shark, as disease demon, 144 ; 

legendary origin of, 266 
Shellfish, as disease demon, 144 ; 
spirit doubles of, 126, 143 ; 

stinging, 143. 

Shields, not used by Dobuans, 275 
sibiikaka (plant), 224 
Sick persons, 136, 176 f. ; removed 
to own village, 4 ; treatment of, 

144, 147 

Sigasiga (place), 139, 141 
sigiita (garden boundary), no 
Silana (place), 226 
Silasila (place), 185 
silasila lazoa, 192 

Similagaga Isl., legendary origin of, 

Sinaketa (Trobriand village), 221 
sinasinate (sea-urchin), 220 
Sineboganbattra (charm), 168 
Sinebomatu, wind-goddess, i86 f. 
Singing, at close of mourning, 1 1 
sipzuana (part of song), 252, 256 f. 
Sisiyana (place), 139, 141 
Sister, native terms for, 37 ; use of 
term, 7, 69 

j Sister-brother relationship : see 

I Brother-sister 
I sita (mat), 3 1 
I siudana (yam gift), 195 
I sizvabu (tabu term), 82, 116, 122 
I Siwabudoi (an Entrance), 122 
Siyawawa (village), 216 
Skull, disposal of, 13, 40, 180, 187, 
277 ; dance with, 12, 250 
' Sky people, 220, 223 
1 Slang, 244 

Sleep, spirits and, 178, 181 

Smell, divination by, 154 

Snake, emblematic of paralysis, 139, 

142, 147 

Social organization, 1-21, 48, 61, 
66, 74, 90-3, 280 
Social success, 135 
Society Islands, fire walking in, 115 
soki (poisonous fish). 170, 174 
Solamanake (place), 139 
Solicitary gifts, 218, 224 ff. 

Solitude, fear of, 77, 153 
Solomon Islands, burial custom in, 


Solomanaki, Mt., 265, 266 
Son, inheritance of, 2, 17 ; excluded 
from deceased father’s village, 2 ; 
and father, 3, s, 15, 277 f. 
Son-in-law, pre-nuptial duties of, 22, 

sone charms, 124, 128, 131 
Song, 250 ff. ; “ coppight ” in, 

251, 261 ; emblematic of social 
code, 82 

Sorcerers, 167 ff. ; other villagers 
regarded gs, 7, 76, 91 ; work and 
methods of, 1 50 ff. 



Sorcery, 30, 36, 56, 150 ff., 167 ff., 
171 ; official attitude towards, 
288 ff. ; not used mutually by 
brothers, 16 ; a criminal offence, 
166, 288 ff. ; denial of, 152 ; 
fear of, 47, 78, 14S. J 5 ». >55 : 
hypnotic, 163, 284 f. ; and kula 
exchange, 209, 217 f. ; averted by 
payment, 175 ; reprisals in, 156 f., 
163 ; suppression of, 290 ; 
suspicion of, 9, 23 ; teaching of, 
147 f. ; see also Magic; Witchcraft 
sosormoakumwakupwa (incontinence 
of urine), 144 

Space, Dobuan conception of, 13 1 n. 
Spatula, use in magic, 162 
Speech, courtesy in, 15 1 
Spells, use in feuds, 147 ; in the 
kula, 210 ; mobility of, 124 ; for 
sickness and death, 150 ; teaching 
of, 80 f., 137, 147 f. ; placed on 
trees, 79 ; “ trying out,” 149 ; 

see also Charms ; Incantations 
Spider, in garden magic, 126 ; see also 

Spirit, infection by, 180 ; laying of a, 
179 ; of the dead, see Dead ; of 
warriors, 182 ; trap for, 179 f- 
Spirit doubles, of animals, 126 : 

see also Doubles 
Spirit yams, 123 
Spitting, 180 

Spondylus shell, as marriage gift, 189 ; 
trade in, 202 ff. 

Stealing, actual and magical, 81, 83, 
93, *36, 145 ; charm for, 168 ; 
co-operative, 153; due to im- 
providence, 70 ; of incantations, 
107 ; sentiment regarding, 107 ; 
see also Thief 
Step-children, 15, 17, 82 
Sterility, objection to, 65, 273 ; herbs 
for producing, 129 
Stomach, and magic, 148 ; swelling 
of, 179 f. 

Strangers, debarred from villages, i ; 
distrust of, 215 ; marriage with, 
20 f., 86, I S3, 193 

Success, criteria of, 176, 238 ; in 
kula exchange, 215, 232 
Suckling, 273 
Sud-est (island), 220 f. 

Suggestion, and disease, 171 ; and 
magic, see Hypnotism 
Suicide, in self-pity, 3, 6, 7, 48 ff., 
91 f. ; after bake, 79, 245 f. 
Sulphur-crested cockatoo, as totem. 

3 ==' 34 

sulua (fish), 226, 228 
sttmKana (personal leavings), 154, 167 
Sun, legend concerning, 228 
Supernatural beings, 98 f., loi, in, 
113, 122 f., 125, 127, 130, 133, 136, 
140, 178 f., 223, 262, 271 f., 282 
Suspicion, 9, 23, 43, 137, 155, 207, 209 

Susu, the system, 2, 5, 71 ; favoured 
by law, 18 : and marital grouping, 

7, 15, 17 ff., 43, 6i, 69, 72, 90 f., 
ii9f., 135, 19s S., 241, 274, 277 f. : 
responsible for marriage exchanges, 
43, 191 ; use of names within, 66 ; 
names and legends, 31 f. ; owner- 
ship of seed, 108 
Swallowing of boy, magical, 24 
Sweeping, on marriage, 25, 77 
Sword-fish, in legend, 265 
Sympathetic magic, 127, 287 

Tabu, special Dobuan significance, 
254 ; teaching of, 148 ; brother- 
sister, 9 f. ; inheritance, 28, 82 ; 
disease-spells, 82, 93, 138, 143, 
171, 29s ; in feuds, 157 ; on food 
and property, 58, 138, 141, 143, 
197 f. ; in love affairs, 143 ; 
women’s, 1 52 

tabuuiara (maize), in magic, 127 
tai sinabteadi (local magnates), 84 
Tanubweala (Tewaran village), 220 
taptii (Samoan hieroglyphic), 138 
Taro, marriage gifts of, 190 
tatapeno (shellfish), 122, 125 f., 130 
tauhau, Tauwau, 136 and n., 152, 

tatcataiea (tree), 296 
Teeth, blackening of, 276 
Tewara, 30, 46, 86, 146, 193 f., 207 ; 
adultery in, 61 ; and kula ritual, 
225 ; legendary origin of, 265 ; 
tabus, 138 ; women, 250, 267 
Theft : see Stealing 
Thief, 136, 145 ; dread of spells, 
80 : treatment of, 55 f., 79, 83 
“ Those - resulting - from - marriage,” 
5, 9, 15, 22, 41, 84, 189 ff. ; eviction 
of, 7 ; at mourning and funerals, 
10 ff. ; absent from weddings, 26 ; 
use of personal names, 14, 63, 66 ; 
and Owners of the Village, 6, 64, 
77 , 87 

Thunder, magic production of, 230 f. 
ti (Cordyline temdnalis), 114 f., 118, 

Tobacco, 170 

Tobebeso and Tobwaliton (sea- 
monsters), 98 ff., 132, 263, 266 
Tokedokeket (ogre), 270 
tokenobeku (magicians), 181 
Tokuku (place), 140, 142 
tokumali (indicative of disease), 176 f., 


tolu (memory charm), 148 
tomot (persons), 109 
tonerva (fish), 142 
toni-tvaga (canoe owner), 224 f. 
Toothache, demon of, 144 
i Totem, 187 ; distribution, 32 ff. ; 
I inter-marriage discouraged, 29, 53 ; 
I linked, 36, 228 
i Totemism, 30 ff., 72 ; and garden 


magic, Ii8; and kula exchange, 

Trading, eflfect of, 30 ; native, 207 f. ; 

see also Kula 
Trap, for spirits, 179 f. 

Treachery, 56, 137 
Trees, and metamorphosis, 95 ; 
magical protection of, 82, 93, 138, 
144 f. ; spells for, 79 f. ; spirit 
doubles of, 126 ; tabu on after a 
death, 197 f. ; as toton, 36 
Trespass, 80 

Trobriand Islands, 40, 124 ; dancing, 
250 ; Dobuans in, 74 ; garden 
magic, 1 14 ; incantation, 107 ; 
village incest, 90 ; in the kula 
ring, 201 f. ; in legend, 212 ; 
mother-right in, 21 ; witchcraft, 
74, 151 ; yam houses, 283 
Trobrianders, albinos among, 248 ; 
compared with Dobuans, 136 ; and 
the gelaboi, 165 ; gtcara tabu of, 
198 ; and legends, 186 ; poisoning 
method, 170 ; theory of procrea- 
tion, 239, 241 ; women of, 265 
Trocus shell, 132, 202 
Tribut (Tewaran village), 220 
“ Trying out,” 134, 145, 149, 170, 

233. 238 

Tuberculosis, 136 

Tubetube (island group), in the kula 
ring, 202 f., 208 
Tuesia (place), 146 
Tulia (variety of yam), 1 16 
Tuma (islet), 212 

tunaseana (sea-charm), 216, 226 f., 
231, 271 

Turtle, supernatural, 113, 123, 126 
tuva (a poison), 174 

Udaudana (village), 216 
Ulcers, 144 
Uloga (place), 146 
Ulogu (place), 143 
Upas-tree, 172 

Urine, incontinence of, 138, 144, 

159 f. 

uvalaku {kula fleet), 210 
Uwamo (island), 216, 225 

Vada (hypnotic sorcery), 284 ff., 289, 
291 n., 294 

Vakuta (island), 218, 221 f., 228 
Vendetta, 282 ; and divination, 166 ; 
against adulterer, 61, descendants, 
24, wives, 3, 6 ; see also Feud 
Venus : see Kubwana ; Panamoti, 
Star of 

Vigna marina, 121 

Village, organization of, i ff., 3°, 
35, 43, 60, 72, 92 ; privacy of, 
Villagers, distrust among, 9, 23, 43 j 
and marriages, 43 ; strangers’ 
opinion of, 76, 91 ; use of term. 


2 ; see also “ Owners of the 
Village ” 

Visitors, not allowed within doors, 4, 
75, or at a meal, 74 
Vocabulary, 258 

Volcanic c^stals, in magic, 154, 298 
Vulva, eating of, 302 

waded (non-conforming widower), 57, 
59. 78 f. 

Wadana Isl., legendary origin of, 265 
Wabuna (locality), 33 ff. 
wabuwabu (sharp practice in kula), 
193, 216 f., 232, 234 
Walada pool, 262 

Walibua (neighbouring district), 117 
Wamea (in the Amphletts), 218 
Wanoge (legendary being), 99, 236 f. 
War, and marriage, 36 
War-songs, 261 
Warrior, initiation of, 306 
Waruma (place), 267 
Wasp, as disease demon, 144 
Wata (island), 182, 225 
Water, charming of, 216, 29s; in 
charms and exorcism, 144, 147 f. ; 
exchange of, 206 ; see also Sea- 

Water-gazing, 154, 156, 165 
Wattle tree, in magic, 143 
watuatuke (fish), 265 
teawari (hypnotic sorcery), 285 
Weaning, 246, 273 
Weeding, 105, 120 
wekani (love invocation), 236 
Wenio, Weniogwegwe (legendary 
dog), 99, 226 f., 270 f. 
werebana (witches), 150, 153 
Whites, 30, 164 ; influence of, 30, 
164 ; native evaluation, 109, 136 ; 
see also Administration ; Govern- 
ment ; Missions 

White Pigeon, totemic ancestor, 3 1 
Widow, 65 ; mourning of, 13, 57, 
78, 194 ; worit of, 106, 195 
.Widower, and marital exchanges, 192 ; 
mourning of, ii ff., 57, 78, 177, 
194,256; songof the, II, 91, 255 ; 
work of, 106 ; see also Maiwortu 
Wife, garden work of, 105 ; and 
jealousy, 6, 7, 77, 91, 104, 134, 
247 f. : a form of property, 133 ; 
terms for, 37 ; suspected for witdi, 
92, 153 : tee also Divorce ; 

Wife-beating, 3 

Winds, invocations to, 21 1 ; and 
kula ritual, 225 ; magic for, 97, 
102, 124, 213, 295 ; personality 
of, 212 ; public legends of, 263 ; 
spirits of the, 263 

Witchcraft, 30, 36, 45, 74, 99, 150 f., 
178, 181 ; criminal officidly, 288, 
but not to natives, 78 ; denial of, 
152 ; examples of, 24, 44 ; and 



heat, 295 f. ; legal background, 
157 j official attitude towards, 
288 ff. ; protection against, 77 ; 
its universality, 81 
Witches, other villagers regarded as, 
7 ; work and methods of, 150 f. ; 
flying, 150, 152, 261, 295, 297 
Women, responsible for death, 151 ; 
and inheritance, 2 ; respect for in 
public, 54, 64 ; and spells, 152 ; 
strike of, 78 ; supernatural powers, 
40 ; and white men, 74 ; and 
witchcraft, 150 f. 

Woodlark Island : see Murua 
Words, power of, 130 
Wreckers, in legend, 268 

Yabowaine (supernatural being), iii, 
113, IIS. 118, I2S f., 282 
yadiyadi (condemned trees), 197 
yaiyai (heat), 296 

Yams, eaten by the dead, 181 ; eyes, 
117. 130. 282; first fruits, 123; 
grandmothers, 222 ; hart'esting, 

105 f., 122 ; incantations for, 97, 

106 f., 109, 123 ff., 127 f. ; in 
kula ritual, 225 ; as marriage gift. 

189, 192 ; importance of in 

marriage, 74 ; mobility of, 108, 
1 18, 124, 128, 282; in mourning 
exchange, 195 ; legendary origin, 
95, III, 1 17, 282 ; magic entice- 
ment, 83, loi, 134, 283 ; owner- 
ship of, 69, 108 ; personality, loi, 
107 f., 120, 122, 127, 130, 133, 
135. 222 ; sea-legend concerning, 
1 19 f. ; as sexton’s fee, 194; 
slicing of, 1 16, 127, 130; spirits, 
123 ; storage, 118, 122, 283 ; 

training of, 121 ; womb of, 123 
yamsu (variety of yam), 128 
Yarata (N.W. wind), 212, 263 
yatala (divination term), 155, 156 
Yauboda (charm), 168 
Yauyana (straits), 268 
Yawaigili (atoll), 212 
Yaws, charm for, 80, 138, 143 ; 

exorcism for, 147 
yodttdu (a shore-bird), 147 
Youths, duties and position when 
betrothed, 25 
Yowana (islet), 212 
Yuyuwe (tail of Orion), 127 
Yuyuna (tail of Orion), 223 

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